Gavel Grab

Senate Fills D.C. Circuit Court Vacancies; JAS Applauds

The U.S. Senate voted on Monday to confirm federal Judge Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, completing the filling of three vacancies on that highly influential court. Justice at Stake applauded the full staffing of the court.

Praveen Fernandes, JAS director of federal affairs and diversity initiatives, said in a statement, “We’re pleased to note that for the first time in more than two decades, the D.C. Circuit has its full complement of judges. Justice at Stake takes no position on any individual confirmation, but we do advocate for a fully staffed judiciary with the resources necessary to do its job.

“Regardless of which political party controls the White House or the Senate, fully staffed courts allow for better access to justice and quicker adjudication of cases – the people and businesses of this nation deserve nothing less.”

Judge Wilkins was confirmed by a 55 to 43 vote, according to the Blog of Legal Times. Last year, he and President Obama’s other two recent nominees for the court had been blocked from receiving up-or-down votes by Republican opposition.

Then Senate Democrats triggered a controversial change in Senate rules to eliminate filibusters of most nominees. In the wake of the rules change, the Senate has confirmed Judge Wilkins,  Patricia Millett and Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to the court.

JAS had voiced opposition to the Court Efficiency Act (S.699), a bill proposing the elimination of three seats on the D.C. Circuit. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, which has long provided non-partisan analysis and recommendations on resource allocation within the federal courts, has not recommended any change to the number of authorized judgeships for the D.C. Circuit. 

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