We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Democrats on the DC Circuit Court

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


As we all know, Republicans filibustered President Obama’s nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the DC Circuit Court last month, so now we’re moving on to the second of his nominees to fill one of the court’s vacancies: Sri Srinivasan, an attorney who’s not just respected by both liberals and conservatives, but even worked in the George W. Bush administration. That didn’t do him any good when he was first nominated in 2012, but he’s back now, and getting a lot of love from right-wingers. Sahil Kapur reports:

Their support would normally bode well for a key judicial pick by a Democratic president. But Senate Republicans have indicated a desire to maintain the court’s notoriously high vacancy rate — at least as long as Obama’s president. Earlier this year, they filibustered a different, widely respected Obama nominee to the same court. And so the broad ideological consensus behind Srinivasan makes it harder for Republicans to oppose his nomination without appearing as though they’re abusing their advise and consent power for partisan purposes.

Harder? Sure. Impossible? No! A while back I was digging into this subject a little bit, trying to find out what the official objection to Obama’s nominees was. The party-line answer, it turned out, was pretty straightforward: The DC Circuit doesn’t really have a very heavy caseload, so it doesn’t need any more judges. As you can imagine, this is a very handy argument indeed, since it means that Republicans don’t really need to cast around for a pretend reason to oppose Srinivasan or any of Obama’s other nominees. They can just oppose them all.

Now that David Sentelle has retired and the court has four vacancies, maybe this argument won’t fly any longer. Then again, maybe it will. Stay tuned.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest