Obama’s new appellate court nominees should be blocked

In his final year in office, President Obama remains in a position to continue his project of transforming America. He can do so through Executive Orders, for example.

Republicans, though, are in a position to close the book on one front — the transformation of the federal judiciary. In November 2014, the GOP took control of the Senate. Consequently, no federal judge can be confirmed without Republican complicity. Indeed, as a practical matter, no federal judge can be confirmed unless Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley allows it.

Until now, unfortunately, Grassley’s inclination has been to pat himself on back for confirming liberal nominees to important courts. I wrote about this here, in connection with the confirmation of Luis Felipe Restrepo, an aggressive left-winger, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

It’s time for Grassley to stop surrendering. Ed Whelan reminds us that the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed only two of President Bush’s federal appellate nominees made after January 1, 2008. One was a Democrat; the other a compromise choice, the result of a bipartisan deal.

President Obama has three appellate court nominees pending, with a fourth on its way. None, says Whelan, is a Republican or a compromise choice. None has been approved by a Republican Senator from his or her home state.

The nominees in question are Donald K. Schott (7th Circuit, Wisconsin); Myra C. Selby (7th Circuit, Indiana); Jennifer Kelmetsrud Puhl (8th Circuit, North Dakota); and (on its way) Lucy Koh (9th Circuit, California). The home state Republican Senators are Ron Johnson; Dan Coats; and John Hoeven.

I urge readers to contact Chairman Grassley’s office and ask him to block these nominees. Given the importance of the federal judiciary, there can’t be two sets of rules for confirming judges, one for each Party. Democrats won’t confirm genuine Republican nominees in a president’s eighth year, so Republicans must not confirm genuine Democratic nominees in the corresponding year.

Chairman Grassley’s office can be reached at (202) 224-3744.

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