Republicans Now Officially Opposed to Confirming Any Democratic Nominees for the DC Circuit Court

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Last week I mentioned that I had once dug into the subject of filling vacancies on the DC Circuit Court. I wanted to find out what the official objection to Obama’s nominees was:

The party-line answer, it turned out, was pretty straightforward: The DC Circuit doesn’t really have a very heavy caseload, so it doesn’t need any more judges. As you can imagine, this is a very handy argument indeed, since it means that Republicans don’t really need to cast around for a pretend reason to oppose Srinivasan or any of Obama’s other nominees. They can just oppose them all.

But that was a couple of years ago. Is it still the official party line? Yes! Ian Millhiser reports today that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–IA) has introduced a bill that would simply slash the number of seats on the DC Circuit and put a stop to any further Obama nominees completely. Here’s Grassley:

As most of my colleagues know, the D.C. Circuit is the least busy circuit in the country. In fact, it ranks last or almost last in nearly every category that measures workload….Given this imbalance in workload, today I am introducing the Court Efficiency Act. A number of my colleagues are co-sponsoring the legislation, including Senators Hatch, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, Lee, Cruz and Flake.

This legislation is straightforward. It would add a seat to the Second and the Eleventh Circuits. At the same time, it would reduce the number of authorized judgeships for the D.C. Circuit from 11 to 8.

So there you go! Just cut the size of the court from 11 to 8 and there’s no need to confirm any more pesky Democratic nominees. The court can continue handing off its overflow caseload to its retired senior judges, almost all of whom are safely Republican.

You can (and should) go read Millhiser for more detail about the reality of the DC court’s caseload and why Grassley and his little gang of cosponsors are full of shit. Or you can just accept the obvious: this has no basis in fact or policy. It’s simply another transparent Republican power play designed to maintain their stranglehold on the federal bureaucracy.

But I think it does answer a question. It’s possible that Republicans will agree to confirm Sri Srinivasan to the DC Circuit. He’d be the eighth judge, and he’s practically a gift to them anyway. But after that they haven’t the slightest intention of allowing any further vacancies to be filled. Not by Obama, anyway.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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