JCN launches campaign to stop Obama from 'packing' D.C. Circuit

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- On Friday, the Judicial Crisis Network launched its campaign urging the U.S. Senate to block President Barack Obama's attempt to "pack" the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The network, according to its website, is committed "to the Constitution and the Founders' vision of a nation of limited government; dedicated to the rule of law; with a fair and impartial judiciary." JCN argues that the President has nominated three people to the D.C. Circuit even though the court is evenly balanced among Democratic and Republican appointees, and despite the lack of a case backlog. "The D.C. Circuit is the most underworked federal appellate court in the nation, and has a declining caseload. At a time when our nation is struggling to get its financial house in order and our judiciary is laboring in other places with a shortage of judges, it is irresponsible to be confirming more judges to the D.C. Circuit where they are not needed," JCN Chief Counsel Carrie Severino said Friday. "Filling up the D.C. Circuit may be a good strategy to insulate the President's aggressive political agenda from meaningful judicial review, but it is not in the best interests of the federal judiciary or the American people." Senate Republicans have argued -- sometimes in the midst of hearings -- that Obama is packing the court with the nominations of Patricia Millett, Cornelia "Nina" Pillard and Robert Leon Wilkins. The President nominated all three in June. Some even have introduced legislation aimed at reducing the number of judges on the court. In April, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposed the Court Efficiency Act. The legislation would reduce the number of seats on the D.C. Circuit from 11 to eight, but also add a seat to the Second and Eleventh circuits. In June, Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced the Stop Court Packing Act. The bill would reduce the number of judges on the D.C. Circuit from 11 to eight. Neither bill has gained traction. In the meantime, Millett and Pillard's nominations have been sent to the full Senate for a vote. Wilkins' committee vote -- originally scheduled for Oct. 3 -- has been delayed because of this month's government shutdown, which lasted 17 days. JCN's campaign includes launching a website -- www.nocourtpacking.com -- that explains the President's "methods and motives," it says. The network says it also plans to launch radio ads in Alabama, Maine and West Virginia, targeting those states' senators and encouraging them to oppose the three nominees. From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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