Today, all but two Senate Republicans blocked a yes-or-no vote on the nomination of District Judge Robert Wilkins to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It was the third time in three weeks that Republicans have filibustered one of President Obama’s nominees to the court, where three of eleven seats remain vacant. A fourth nominee, Caitlin Halligan, was filibustered in March.
The Senate was unanimous in confirming Judge Wilkins to his current seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 2010.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is second only to the United States Supreme Court in its environmental importance, often determining whether Americans across the country have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a healthy environment to leave for their children. During the previous administration, Senate Republicans voted unanimously in support of filling the court’s ninth, tenth, and eleventh seats—the same seats they are blocking now.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen:
“The partisan obstruction that has taken hold of the Senate is unprecedented and unsustainable. The President has fulfilled his constitutional obligation to put forward qualified nominees for each of the D.C. Circuit’s three empty seats. It’s time the Senate does its job. Each of the President’s nominees must be given an up-or-down vote. If Senate Republicans continue to stand in the way, the majority will have no choice but to change the rules to end this outrageous obstruction of judicial nominees.”