D.C. Circuit Nominee Pillard Blocked by Senate Republicans

By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 14, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Nina Pillard's nomination to the D.C. Circuit was blocked by Senate Republicans on Tuesday, prompting Senate Democrats to further consider changing the filibuster rules.

ABC News reports that Pillard's nomination to one of three empty seats on the D.C. Circuit was stymied by a "procedural vote" of 56-41, with Democrats sorely missing the four votes needed to block a filibuster on the issue.

Is Pillard's blocking going to be a continuing trend?

Senate Republicans Block Two Nominees

The stonewalling of Pillard's nomination on Tuesday didn't come as particularly surprising in light of Patricia Millett's blocking by Senate Republicans in early November.

Tuesday's vote was another procedural attempt to end discussion on the matter of a D.C. Circuit hopeful's nomination within 30 hours -- the so-called "cloture" rule -- but it failed since supporters couldn't garner three-fifths of the Senate votes.

Now, like Millett, Pillard is stuck in judicial nominee limbo, without any indication that Senate Democrats -- namely Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada -- will bring the issue to the floor again.

Politico reports that the threat of the "nuclear option" (i.e., changing Senate filibuster rules so that a simple majority can override) has become entwined with the fate of the D.C. Circuit nominees, and it remains unclear if Senate Democrats will make good on their threats to go "nuclear."

Nominee Pillard, We Hardly Knew Ye

Cornelia "Nina" Pillard is now the second Obama nominee to be blocked by Republicans in the Senate. Unlike Patricia Millet who received some recognition from Republicans, Pillard was decried as "radical" throughout her Senate hearings.

Senate Republicans fixated on views of Pillard as a "radical feminist" (which is aptly summed up in this Powerline article) and her views on reproductive rights as portrayed in a 2012 Georgetown Law article entitled "Against the New Maternalism."

Quotes from Pillard may have been taken out of context or skewed during the hearings, but we know for certain that she represented plaintiffs in the landmark Virginia Military Institute case -- one which advanced equality of education for women in the SCOTUS canon.

Despite the opposition, Pillard cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in late September only to be stopped dead before a vote from the full Senate. Opposition thus far to Obama nominees doesn't give much hope for the remaining D.C. Circuit nominee, Robert Wilkins, who was strangely also grilled by Senate Republicans on Pillard's views.

Bottom Line

Senate Democrats are losing these battles for D.C. Circuit nominees, but they may still make good on their threats to "nuke" Senate Republicans.

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