Schumer On Judicial Appointees: We Will Change the Rules to ‘Fill up The DC Circuit’

Eric Scheiner | March 20, 2013 | 11:45am EDT
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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) AP Photo

( - Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats will “fill up the DC circuit one way or another,” even it means changing the rules in the Senate to get nominees confirmed.

At a Mar. 10 dinner event, the New York senator criticized the GOP for rejecting President Barack Obama’s nomination for judge of the D.C. Circuit.

“They just rejected on specious grounds a fine New Yorker named Caitlin Halligan for the second time," said Schumer.  "Our strategy will be to nominate four more people for each of those vacancies [in the federal judicial courts]. And if they filibuster all of them, it will give those of us that want to change the rules and not allow 60 votes to dominate the Senate but require a talking-filibuster to prevail. So we will fill up the DC circuit one way or another.”

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Earlier this month, President’s Obama’s nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome opposition and get a vote.

In January of this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a move to do away with the requirement of 60 votes to overcome minority opposition and force a talking-filibuster. The move would have required senators to hold the floor and debate in order to prevent votes on matters they oppose. However, the manuever to force a talking-filibuster was removed in the filibuster reform deal between crafted by Reid and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Schumer told the audience at the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats dinner why he felt the need to have Halligan seated as a judge:  “We have a federal court system and the second most important court in that system is the D.C. Court of Appeals because it controls all kinds of government decisions.”

“There are now four vacancies on the court and it’s dominated by the hard right," he said.  "Here’s what they have done in the last year: they have overturned the EPA’s ability to regulate existing coal plants which send their pollution here and kill the Adirondack mountains. They have rendered the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) impotent by saying that the SEC can’t pass rulings unless they do what is called a cost-benefit analysis, which ties any rulings to go after our financial institutions in knots.”

“And third, they have ruled that recess appointments couldn’t be taken into account," said Schumer. "Why did they do that? They did that because the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) which has finally begun to swing the pendulum a little bit back so that workers and unions could actually organize people as opposed to the rulings under the Bush administration --which for eight years -- but now they are going to render those decisions moot. So we have to fill the 10th - the DC circuit.”

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