President Obama nominating Patricia Ann Millett, Cornelia Pillard, and Robert Leon Wilkins to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Senate will convene this afternoon for yet another Republican filibuster of an extremely well-qualified nominee from President Obama. This time it will be Robert Wilkins, a judge on the District Court for the District of Columbia, nominated by the president to fill a vacancy on the nation's second most important court, the D.C. Circuit. Wilkins will be the third D.C. Circuit nominee filibustered in a month's time, and the second prominent African American filibustered in that time frame. Republicans also blocked Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), the president's nominee for the federal housing agency.

Wilkins sailed through his confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee, the only controversy coming from the crazy uncle of the committee, Chuck Grassley, who tried to nail Wilkins down on something using the writings of one of his fellow nominees to the court. That's just Grassley's bizarre way of picking a fight, a fight that Senate Democrats are preparing to escalate.

Liberal Democrats who have always wanted to change the Senate rules to block filibustering on Obama’s nominees are more amped up than ever about what they describe as Republicans’ “unprecedented obstruction.” Reid notes that some of the loudest voices calling for a re-examination of the filibuster are members of the “let’s not change things” caucus — people like Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chamber’s longest-serving member, and Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime protector of Senate rules.

Biden said the nuclear option is “worth considering,” while Leahy is less equivocal.

“We’re at the point where there will have to be a rules change. You cannot say that one president can have his way on qualified judges, another president cannot have his judges,” Leahy said last week, referring to Republican support for former President George W. Bush’s D.C. Circuit nominees. [...]

“In the past, we’ve come close to the line, and we’ve worked out something. But I will tell you, lots of people on our side feel extremely strongly,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a top Reid lieutenant. “It’s the same kind of thing that drove us to the edge last time.”

The legslative and holiday schedule likely means that Reid will postpone bringing all of these nominees back up until after the next budget fight in mid-January. All of these nominees will come up for a revote, unless Republicans somehow decide to relent and allow for a deal for one or two of them. At this point, that doesn't seem likely, with even Sen. John McCain—who helped broker a deal on nominees in July—committed to the insane Republican argument that filling these three vacancies is packing a court that doesn't need a full panel of judges. This gives Reid and Leahy some time to work on their caucus, bringing the needed 51 votes for breaking the filibuster.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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