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Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2015

Publication Citation

91 Indiana Law Journal 121 (2015)

Abstract

Partisanship undermines judicial nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. With three of eleven judgeships vacant during Barack Obama’s first term, he was the only President in a half century not to appoint a jurist to the nation’s second-most important court. Confirming accomplished nominees, thus, became imperative for the circuit’s prompt, economical, and fair case disposition. In 2013, Obama submitted excellent candidates. Patricia Millett had argued thirty-two Supreme Court appeals; Cornelia Pillard successfully litigated numerous path-breaking matters; and Robert Wilkins had served on the D.C. District bench for three years. The purportedly shrinking tribunal caseload and concerns about Pillard’s supposed ideological perspectives spurred Republicans to filibuster each nominee, initiatives which multiple cloture petitions did not surmount. Because the President’s able, mainstream recommendations deserve thorough, expeditious Senate review with positive or negative final votes, Democrats cautiously revised filibuster strictures to allow upper-chamber ballots, and the individuals captured approval.

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