The Associated Press is reporting that tomorrow President Obama will nominate three experienced and highly regarded people -- Cornelia Pillard, Patricia Ann Millet and Robert Leon Wilkins -- to the influential Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a court with more than a quarter of its active judgeships sitting vacant. Senate Republicans are predictably leaping into inaction, promising to block all three nominees for reasons completely unrelated to their qualifications or backgrounds. They are even proposing a bill that would eliminate those three judgeships entirely to prevent President Obama from filling them. But their arguments rely on Americans not paying attention to the facts about the D.C. Circuit. Here are five things Republicans don't want you to know about the nation's second most influential court.
- The D.C. Circuit has a huge influence over federal law and regulation... and it's currently dominated by some of the most conservative federal judges in the country. Republican nominees on the D.C. Circuit have recently overturned clean air protections that would have prevented an estimated 34,000 premature deaths; invalidated President Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board; found that requiring factually accurate warning labels on cigarette packages violates the free speech rights of tobacco companies; and, perhaps most absurdly, ruled that a law requiring employers to tell workers their legal rights violates the employers' First Amendment rights. Senate Republicans want to keep it this way.