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Republicans backing Ark. Congressman's Stop Court Packing Act

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 12, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- Nearly a dozen Republican Congressmen have signed on to a piece of legislation that would reduce the number of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 11 to eight.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced what he calls the Stop Court Packing Act, also referred to as House of Representatives Bill 2239.

HR 2239, which has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, was originally introduced with no co-sponsors.

Now, 10 GOP Congressmen are backing the bill.

They include: John Culberson of Texas, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Ralph Hall of Texas, Lamar Smith of Texas, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Ted Yoho of Florida and Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Cotton introduced the "common sense legislation" in response to President Barack Obama's three, simultaneous nominations to the D.C. Circuit.

Obama said in a high-profile press conference, held in the White House's Rose Garden last week, he will nominate Cornelia "Nina" Pillard, Patricia Ann Millett and Robert Leon Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit.

"The Stop Court Packing Act would eliminate three needless judgeships from the D.C. Circuit, saving millions of taxpayer dollars," Cotton said in a statement.

"This court has the lightest caseload of any federal appellate court in the country, and its docket is trending downward. Congress recognized these facts when it shrunk the court from 12 to 11 judges in 2008.

"Moreover, the D.C. Circuit hasn't had 11 judges since 1999, yet it has managed its shrinking caseload."

Cotton noted that the court's current makeup of eight judges is evenly split between judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents.

And in addition to the D.C. Circuit's eight active judges, it also has six senior judges who participate regularly in cases, the Congressman pointed out.

"In the private sector, this wouldn't even be a close call: these jobs are no longer needed, and they shouldn't be filled," he said.

Cotton argues that Obama "knows these facts," making his nominations to the court last week an "obvious effort" to pack a court that has "frustrated his liberal, big-government ambitions."

It was the D.C. Circuit that ruled Obama's "intrasession appointment" of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board was an unconstitutional abuse of power because he could not make those appointments without Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess.

"The D.C. Circuit has jurisdiction over regulatory agencies and it has routinely struck down the worst excesses of the Obama administration," Cotton said.

"This legislation will preserve an essential check and balance on President Obama's out-of-control regulatory agencies. From the IRS to the EPA to the NLRB, the last thing Arkansans need is more judges in Washington, D.C., making decisions for our state."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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