Here’s a great example of dishonest right-wing spin (and yes, there is dishonest left-wing spin as well) from Newsmax, which says that President Obama has “seized control” of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. OMG! Seized control? You mean like sent in armed agents to take it over? Not quite.
In November, Obama effectively gained control of the 11-member court when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid triggered the “nuclear option” — reducing the threshold needed to stop a filibuster from 60 votes to a simple majority.
Within weeks, Obama nominees Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard were confirmed for the court. Wilkins’ confirmation will likely be completed by the Senate no later than February, giving the court its full complement of judges.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said that because the D.C. Circuit dealt with cases related to the Environmental Protection Agency, he had concerns about what nominees had said about the coal and utilities industries that are so important to his state.
But his concerns and Pennsylvania’s won’t matter after the change in filibuster rules, “because the next nominee [to the D.C. Court] won’t need my vote,” Toomey said at a Pennsylvania Society meeting.
Imagine that. As a senator he gets one of 100 votes. If there are more than 50 other senators to vote for any nominee, that nominee “won’t need his vote.” That’s how a majority vote works.
“Of the eight full-time judges on the court before these latest confirmations — not including judges on senior status — there was a 4-4 split between Democratic appointees and Republican appointees,” Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Newsmax.
“Now there are six Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees and there will soon be seven Democrats and only four Republicans.”
Wow, really? You mean there isn’t an exact split between judges appointed by the two parties? Gosh, it’s almost like presidents nominate judges when there’s a vacancy rather than there being some formula that requires absolute parity. I wonder where that process is found? Oh yeah, in the constitution. Imagine that.
At the end of Bush’s time in office, 10 of the 13 judicial circuits were majority Republican. I don’t recall Hans von Spakovsky or any other Republican complaining about that. The party breakdown of appointees hit dead even in November and will now tilt slightly in favor of Democratic appointees with new judges being confirmed. Which is exactly what we would expect after a president has 8 years in office and many judicial vacancies to fill. He didn’t “seize control” of the federal judiciary, he did exactly what the Constitution requires him to do, nominate judges to fill empty seats on the federal bench.