Legislation sponsored by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to reduce the number of judges on what is widely viewed as the nation’s second most important federal court is a "court-packing scheme" to keep the court in the hands of staunch conservatives, according to Alliance for Justice.
|Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)|
“There is more than one way to pack a court to suit one’s ideological preferences,” said Aron. “Now that they are facing increasing pressure to stop blocking President Obama’s nominees, Republicans have come up with a new plan: just get rid of the vacancies.”
At issue is the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Circuit most closely oversees actions of federal regulatory agencies.
“The conservative majority on the D.C. Circuit has used its power to issue decisions undermining protections for workers, consumers, and the environment that affect all Americans,” Aron said. “This activism is possible only because there are four vacancies on the court.
“When the caseload on the court was lighter than it is now, Sen. Grassley supported President George W. Bush’s nominees to fill all eleven seats on the court. But now that President Obama has the opportunity to restore balance to the court, Sen. Grassley proposes to get rid of the vacancies by eliminating three of the 11 seats on the court.”
Aron noted that Grassley’s caseload calculations fail to take into account the extraordinary complexity of many cases heard by the D.C. Circuit.
For an explanation of the importance of the D.C. Circuit and examples of its majority’s political agenda, see our briefing paper on the D.C. Circuit.