Another vote on a judicial nominee, another filibuster by Senate Republicans.
For the third time in just as many weeks, Republicans filibustered another one of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Senate voted 53-38 today on a procedural vote on the nomination of Robert Wilkins to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court, falling short of invoking cloture by seven votes.
Over the past three weeks, Senate Republicans have stopped all nominations to fill the three vacant seats on the 11-person D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the court’s caseload is very light. In previous weeks, the Senate failed to move onto the nominations of Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court.
Senate Democrats are frustrated with Republican efforts to prevent the president from appointing judges, and some have warned of a change coming to Senate rules.
“It’s troubling that Senate Republicans for the fourth time this year appear poised to reject an exceedingly capable nominee to this court for blatantly political reasons,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said prior to the vote. “The Republicans have blocked these nominees solely to deny President Obama his constitutional right to appoint judges.”
“This is becoming a pattern, an embarrassing pattern in the United States Senate and this court is exhibit A of the abuse of the filibuster,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.
“The halls are full of people talking about whether we’re going to change the cloture rules,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “This kind of delay for the sake of delay, this kind of treating this president different than other presidents — that’s why there’s momentum toward a change in our rules.”
President Obama voiced his irritation with the failed vote today and pressed the Senate to hold a simple majority vote on his nominees.
“This obstruction is completely unprecedented. Four of my predecessor’s six nominees to the D.C. Circuit were confirmed. Four of my five nominees to this court have been obstructed,” Obama said in a statement today. “When it comes to judicial nominations, I am fulfilling my constitutional responsibility, but Congress is not. Instead, Senate Republicans are standing in the way of a fully functioning judiciary that serves the American people.”
“The American people and our judicial system deserve better,” the president added. “A majority of the United States Senate supports these three extraordinary nominees, and it is time for simple yes-or-no votes without further obstruction or delay.”