Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Court Packing Effort to Get Around Law v. Republican Efforts to Help the Courts

Democrats cry partisanship and Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid is charging “obstructionism” over Republicans opposition to President Obama’s effort to pack the DC Circuit.  President Obama’s motives could not be clearer as we have written previously. 

Of course Harry Reid’s charges could not be more wrong as well.  As opposed to being “obstructionist” Republicans have proposed a common sense solution:  move the unneeded DC Circuit judgeships to where they are needed.

Senator Grassley’s compromise legislation prevents the politicization of the D.C. Circuit. It would transfer judgeships from the D.C. Circuit, where they are not needed, to circuit courts that need them. Under this proposal, one judge would be transferred immediately from the D.C. Circuit (the court with the lowest workload) to the Second Circuit and one judge to the Eleventh Circuit. President Obama would still be able to appoint these two judges to courts where they are needed – unlike past legislation deferring appointment to the next President.

The design of this legislation has recent precedent: Senate Republicans transferred one D.C. Circuit judgeship to the Ninth Circuit in 2007 (with an effective date of January 2009, when President Bush would not be able to make an appointment). Senators Feinstein and Kyl argued at the time for the need to correct over-authorization of D.C. Circuit judgeships by providing those judgeships to the deficient Ninth Circuit.

Hardly sounds like obstruction. 

Of course, Reid does not care that he is a hypocrite and completely wrong on Republicans motives. 

In 2006, Senate Democrats argued the D.C. Circuit’s workload did not warrant more judges. Back then, they insisted on a standard based on the court’s workload and relied upon it to block a Bush Administration nominee for nearly 1,000 days. Now they seek to abandon that standard to fill the court with nominees to their liking.

Using the same measurements Democrats used to block appointments – written decisions per active judge and total number of appeals filed – President Obama’s current nominees are unnecessary. According to data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the number of written decisions per active judge on the D.C. Circuit has decreased by almost 27 percent since 2005, and the total number of appeals filed has decreased by 18 percent during that time.

So will Democrats relent or will they push to pack the DC Circuit to promote their political agenda? 

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