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Official portrait of Sri Srinavasan as Deputy U.S. Solicitor General. On May 23, 2013 he was confirmed to serve on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sri Srinivasan
The D.C. Circuit federal appeals court has unusual power, acting as a feeder to the Supreme Court and holding jurisdiction over cases involving federal agencies. That makes it a prime subject for Republican obstructionism, and until the confirmation of Sri Srinivasan last week—the first confirmation of an Obama nominee to the D.C. Circuit—there were four vacancies out of 11 spots on the court. Srinivasan's confirmation brings Democrats into parity with Republicans on the D.C. Circuit, at four judges each. But, writing at Dissent, Moshe Z. Marvit shows that the court's Republican skew has been much stronger than those numbers imply:
However, this simple count ignores a key feature of the federal judiciary: senior judgeships. Many judges do not retire, but instead choose senior status, which makes their seat officially vacant but places them on part-time work.

On the D.C. Circuit, there are six senior judges, which is almost the number of active judges, with five having been appointed by Republicans. In all the cases decided in 2013, almost 70 percent of the three-judge panels included at least one senior judge. As a result, almost 80 percent of the panels in 2013 were composed of exclusively or a majority of Republicans.

This is the court that overturned President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, for instance. And the dominance of Republicans on the D.C. Circuit is the situation that Sen. Chuck Grassley has sought to preserve by proposing a plan to reduce the size of the D.C. Circuit, eliminating the seats for which Obama has nominated judges rather than filibustering the nominees. The Supreme Court rightly attracts the most attention. But the filibuster is reshaping American justice, and the federal government's ability to institute and enforce regulations, throughout the federal court system.

Use this link to send an email to your Democratic senators telling them to re-open filibuster reform and make the Senate function again.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon May 27, 2013 at 08:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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