D.C. Circuit Nominee May Be Key to Changing the Court

By Brett Snider, Esq. on August 13, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With the newest nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals passing the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in early August, Patricia Millett is one Senate vote away from her confirmation as a D.C. Circuit judge. Many believe she will fundamentally change the court.

Nominee Patricia Millett was confirmed by the Senate committee in a 10-8 vote, one that tracked closely with party lines. Republicans tried to deny her confirmation based on allegations that the Obama administration is "court-packing" an already underworked court, reports The Huffington Post.

Will Millett snap the D.C. Circuit into shape?

Sen. Reid Pushes For Millett

Millett was announced as a nominee in June. As a former Solicitor General's Office employee for 11 years and a former law clerk for the Ninth Circuit, she seemed well qualified for the position.

The appellate lawyer was one of three nominees to the court, with Senate Democrats pushing to fill the three vacant spots in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- a court that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid feels has been host to three "terrible" former appointees, reports Roll Call.

Part of the frustration by Democrats like Sen. Reid was the D.C. Circuit's ruling that the Obama administration's recess appointments were unconstitutional. That's led to a trend of similar rulings among the sister circuits.

Opponents of the D.C. Circuit's ruling on recess appointments may hope that Millett's appointment will swing the balance of the court toward finding these appointments constitutional.

Most Underworked Court?

Some opponents of Millett's confirmation have no problem with her qualifications. Rather, they believe, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), that the American people don't need to spend "$3 million a year for three judges that are not needed," reports HuffPo.

Although the D.C. Circuit currently has three vacancies, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) punctuated his voting against Millett's confirmation by stating that "D.C. Circuit judges are basically on year-round vacation"; Grassley seems to think the "underworked" court does not need even one more judge, reports Above The Law.

Just for fun, here are a few of the somewhat critical decisions the "lackadaisical" D.C. Circuit has made in the last few months:

Anecdotal evidence is not as concrete or convincing as statistics. But since Sen. Grassley's numbers don't quite add up under his proposed Court Efficiency Act, we can assume that the D.C. Circuit could always use another hand.

And that next hand may be Millett's.

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