"I have concerns about your nomination," Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. "The primary source we have are your academic writings, and those writings to me suggest that your views may well be considerably out of the mainstream."This was all predictable and within the bounds for Republicans discussing the career of a judicial candidate to the left of Ghengis Khan, particularly a female one. What's not typical, and what's showing the real limits of the filibuster agreement Harry Reid achieved last week, is the continuation of Republicans' ridiculous claim that by trying to fill vacant seats, President Obama is trying to pack the court.
Pillard's exchange with Cruz was representative of similar questioning from senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Cruz particularly probed an article Pillard wrote in 2007 about a school district's decision to teach abstinence-only sex education.
Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, re-upped that argument during Wednesday's hearing. He cited statistics that he said illustrated that the court has the lowest workload of all circuit courts. He also read aloud anonymous statements that he said were from current D.C. Circuit judges arguing that the court isn't busy enough to warrant filling its vacancies. Those statements came in response to a letter that Grassley said he sent to the court's judges asking for their take on the matter. [...]There's little indication at all that Republicans are going to be willing to relent on their obstruction when it comes to at least one of the president's judicial nominees. In a normal world, it would be hard to believe there are 47 Republicans who are willing to associate themselves with an effort as idiotic as Grassley's. But it's the Senate. None of the votes these nominations are likely to be held before August recess. So add a major nominations fight to the budget battles we'll be seeing in the fall.
But Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Grassley's argument overlooks the fact that the D.C. Circuit, considered second only to the Supreme Court in terms of its importance, takes on particularly hefty and complex cases that require extra scrutiny. He also listed off the names of current and former judges on that court—including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts—who have spoken publicly about the court's intense workload.