President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to swiftly approve three new nominees to fill slots on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The nominees are lawyer Patricia A. Millet, Georgetown University law professor Cornelia T. L. Pillar and Robert L. Wilkins, a D.C. District Court judge, according to the Associated Press.
The nomination process will likely be politicized and perhaps blocked or stalled in the Senate, as have many of his appointment efforts since he took office, including several which remain in limbo.
"If we want to ensure a fair and functioning judiciary, our courts cannot be short-staffed," Obama said during a press conference announcing his three new nominees in the Rose Garden Tuesday morning, according to the official White House Twitter account. "I’m nominating three highly qualified individuals to fill those remaining seats ... There's no reason -- aside from politics -- for Republicans to block these individuals from getting an up or down vote."
As The Washington Post noted, the Senate did unanimously confirm the appointment of Justice Department official Sri Srinivasan in a unanimous vote, suggesting that Republicans in the chamber may be open to allowing appointments to be made.
But the judiciary is a different beast than the DOJ, especially since the notorious case of the late Robert Bork, a Reagan nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court who was blocked from reaching the court by a hostile Senate, leaving deep impressions on GOP lawmakers and launching the scourge of vicious judicial appointment fights that continues to this day.
Tuesday's event was the first one that Obama has held to announce judicial nominees for any bench other than the Supreme Court, the AP reported.
The D.C. Court of Appeals is seen as the second-highest court in the nation, and if they are confirmed, the new nominees would fill its three vacant seats.
Here is some background on the nominees, as provided by the Washington Post:
"Millett is a partner at the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and has litigated frequently before the Supreme Court as well as the federal courts of appeals. Pillard, who has worked at both the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and in the Solicitor General’s office, was tenured at Georgetown in 2005. She continues to appear before the Supreme Court and serves as faculty co-director of the law center’s Supreme Court Institute."