Once again Senate Republicans have put off one of President Barack Obama’s nominations for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Associated Press reports.
According to the report, on Tuesday members of the GOP successfully blocked Georgetown University law professor Cornelia Pillard, whom Obama chose to fill one of the three empty seats in the court. The roll call vote to get the confirmation through was 56-41, just shy of the 60 votes Democrats needed to end GOP-induced delays.
Recent history is repeating itself. It was only just about two weeks ago that the GOP blocked the nomination of Patricia Millett to the same court.
The Washington Post notes that Republican objection to Millett had nothing to do with her political stances or anything about her as a judicial candidate. It’s more that they don’t want Obama to have any more appointments to the powerful appeals court, which is viewed as second only to the Supreme Court, and rules on matters such as presidential authority and campaign finance.
Democrats used Pillard’s block as a chance to slam Republicans for opposing female nominees to the powerful court in the D.C. circuit, especially considering that the GOP has already blocked two such individuals.
“Women are grossly underrepresented on our federal courts. So what kind of message are Senate Republicans sending by refusing to even allow a vote on three of the most qualified female attorneys in this country?” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, according to the AP.
Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that claim was “offensive” and that such rhetoric was Democrats’ “last line of defense … to accuse Republicans of opposing nominees based upon gender or race.”
The failed vote now has Democrats backed into a corner, threatening to rewrite Senate rules to make it more difficult for the GOP to block nominations, the AP notes, by limiting their ability to demand a 60-member majority vote to end filibusters.
Pillard has worked twice in the Clinton administration and also in the Justice Department. She has also worked with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, arguing nine cases before the Supreme Court, the AP said.