U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts, issued the following statement Tuesday after President Obama announced his intention to nominate Patricia Ann Millet, Nina Pillard, and Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Senator Coons was at the White House for the President's announcement Tuesday morning.
"Our nation's judiciary should be held above the partisan politics that have plagued Washington, protected from the kinds of political maneuvers that have prevented us from making progress on so many issues.
"President Obama today has done what he is constitutionally required to do: nominate judges for the federal bench. The Senate should now do what it is constitutionally required to do, and fairly consider these nominees and vote on their confirmation. The Constitution says "advise and consent,' not "obstruct and manipulate.' When the President submits a highly qualified candidate who is of good character and sound legal mind, then absent exceptional circumstances, that candidate should be entitled to an up or down vote.
"The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is often called the second most important in the nation, because like the Supreme Court, it handles extraordinarily complex cases that impact Americans all over the country from all walks of life. It regularly hears cases from terrorism and detention to the scope of federal agency power, and yet, is critically understaffed. Until Sri Srinivasan's confirmation last month, it had been seven years since the Senate had confirmed a single nominee to the D.C. Circuit. As a result, more than a third of its seats were vacant, forcing larger and unsustainable caseloads onto the remaining judges and slowing the court's delivery of justice.
"Eliminating the three vacant seats on the D.C. Circuit, as my Republicans colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee have proposed, is not a credible solution to the crisis in our nation's judicial system. Instead of continuing to engage in political procrastination, Senate Republicans should fairly consider President Obama's nominees and allow the Senate to vote on their confirmation."