Judicial Nominations Coming – Challenging the Right’s Lingering Influence

Important story in the NYT about White House plans to nominate 3 new individuals to posts to the 11 member D.C. Circuit Court, which right now is dominated by conservatives.  

Often called the second most important court in the country, the Washington court has overturned major parts of the president’s agenda in the last four years, on regulations covering Wall Street, the environment, tobacco, labor unions and workers’ rights.

The Senate approved Sri Srinivasan last week 97-0 to fill a seat on that court. Republicans have been talking of eliminating the 3 open seats in order to solidify their conservative majority.

With the confirmation last week of Sri Srinivasan, Mr. Obama’s first successful nominee to the court, it now has four Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees. But of the six additional “senior” judges, who previously served full time on the court and still regularly hear cases, five were appointed by a Republican president, giving the court a strongly conservative flavor.

“The court is critically important — the majority has made decisions that have frustrated the president’s agenda,” said Nan Aron, a liberal activist who has called for Mr. Obama to be more aggressive in nominating judges. “Our view is that balance must be restored on that court, and the empty seats must be filled.”

This is important for two key reasons:

  1. While the GOP is swimming against the demographic tide, through the Federalist Society they have long endeavored to make sure that even if they can’t get conservatives elected nationally, their philosophy influences the nuts and bolts of society through the courts.  (Funny though that the only story you ever hear about ideologically packing the courts in the liberal media is about FDR in the ’30s.)  The Roberts Court has given us Heller, Citizen’s United  and a perfect record of favoring commerce over individuals in the courts and that conservatism permeates the judiciary all the way down the line.  The Mitch McConnell plan is to delay all nominations for as long as they can so that the Obama administration can’t fill the vast number of judicial openings with non-conservatives, which brings us to…
  2. This story may presage the potential June/July Harry Reid showdown on the filibuster, at least as far as nominations go.  

In the meantime, the Washington circuit court continues to churn out decisions, some of which are undermining the president’s hard-fought legislative and executive agenda.

This indicates that the under the radar war of ideas will finally be joined by POTUS and Sen. Reid.  That third leg of the governmental stool called the judiciary is often ignored by the public, but conservatives know that the influence of lifetime appointments to federal courts has disproportional effects on society.