Senate Judiciary Committee to Vote on Nom. Nina Pillard

By Brett Snider, Esq. on September 19, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Senate Judiciary Committee is primed to vote Thursday on Nina Pillard's prospective nomination to one of three seats left vacant on the D.C. Circuit bench.

Pillard has already been subjected to a good deal of examination by the Committee in the months since her nomination, and according to The Hoya, her views on sex education and reproductive rights have conservatives worried.

As Pillard prepares to face the Committee for its final vote, will her political views be her undoing?

Heavy-hitters From Both Sides of the Aisle

A vocal opponent of Pillard's during her Committee hearings, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) stands as an imposing force against Pillard reaching a full vote before Congress.

Sen. Grassley is also opposed to appointing any more judges to the D.C. Circuit -- which he sees as underworked -- so he's likely not to be in her corner when the vote comes. He is also so incensed with Pillard's testimony at the Committee hearings, he's used it to vet other nominees' views on reproductive rights.

On the other side of the aisle, you have Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who may not as easily be drawn into claims that Pillard is a radical feminist. But Jessica Pieklo of RH Reality Check makes the argument that despite Democrats' support of Pillard, her colleagues may still toss her nomination if it means a possible Republican filibuster.

Pillard's Civil Rights Views

Civil rights advocates have noted that Pillard would make a good addition to the D.C. Circuit; the Leadership Conference stated that her pro-bono record and "unbiased approach to the rule of law" make her an excellent candidate for the D.C. bench.

Pillard was also a key player in the landmark Virginia Military Institute (VMI) case, one in which gender equality was advanced over protests about male-dominated school tradition. It may be easy to paint someone like Pillard into the corner of a staunch advocate for women's rights, but so was another former D.C. Circuit judge, current SCOTUS resident Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

If Pillard is as strong a judge as Ginsberg, we should hope she is confirmed.

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