A Wee Question About Republicans and the DC Circuit Court

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Here’s the latest from the New York Times:

President Obama will nominate a slate of three candidates on Tuesday to fill the remaining vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a White House official said Monday.

The three candidates are people I’ve never heard of, but by this time tomorrow the internet will be bursting with people who are instant experts on all three. So no worries on that score. Instead I have a question for the hive mind.

We already know that Republicans are going to oppose all three of Obama’s nominees, but not because they’re mere obstructionists who are hellbent on preserving a conservative majority on the DC Circuit. Of course not. They’re going to oppose them because, based on its caseload, the DC Court is too big and should be pared back by three seats.

Now, the DC Circuit Court was expanded to 12 members back in 1984, so it’s been at that number for a long time. Then it got reduced to 11 seats in 2007 by a unanimous vote in the Senate. So here’s my question: Following the 2007 vote, are any Republicans on record complaining about the DC Court being too big prior to 2010 or so? It doesn’t seem likely, since in 2005 they confirmed Thomas Griffith as the (then) 11th member, and in 2006, after a couple of vacancies had opened up, they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as the (then) 10th member. So it sure seems as if Republicans thought the court needed more than eight members back when it was George Bush making the nominations.

But who knows? Maybe their arms were twisted and the record shows that most of them, in their heart of hearts, wanted to shrink the DC Circuit even before Obama became president. Can anyone provide any evidence of that?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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