Reid files cloture on third D.C. Circuit nominee; vote expected next week

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 15, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A vote is expected next week on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit nominee Robert Leon Wilkins.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday filed a motion that sets up a vote on Wilkins, who has served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 2010, by the Senate sometime next week. Reid, D-Nev., did not set a specific date or time for the vote.

In filing cloture on Wilkins' nomination, the federal judge will need 60 votes, or three-fifths of the full Senate, to overcome a GOP filibuster.

Wilkins would get an up-or-down vote only if his nomination advances.

But that seems unlikely, given votes on fellow D.C. Circuit nominees Cornelia "Nina" Pillard and Patricia Millett.

Earlier this week, senators voted 56-41 on Pillard's nomination -- just shy of the 60 votes needed to end debate. Really, the vote was 57-40, but Reid switched his vote to "no," allowing him to move to reconsider the vote.

And last month Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's other pick for the court, Millett.

Millett, who currently heads Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP's Supreme Court practice and co-heads the firm's national appellate practice, was five votes shy of the 60 needed to invoke cloture.

Wilkins, who was nominated along with Pillard and Millett in June, also is expected to be blocked.

Republicans continue to argue that the D.C. Circuit doesn't need more than its current eight judges.

Democrats are threatening to rewrite Senate rules if the GOP continues to derail the President's judicial nominations.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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