A fresh feud over federal judgeships has again begun to agitate the Senate, with Republicans so far blocking President Obama from filling any of the four vacancies on the nation's most prestigious and important appeals court, says the New York Times. After Republicans filibustered the nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan of New York to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Democrats quickly began discussions over how to respond. One possibility is for Obama to make several simultaneous nominations, in effect daring Republicans to find specific objections in multiple instances. Democrats say Republicans would be hard pressed to come up with legitimate reasons to disqualify all four.
If Republicans were to continue to steadfastly block a series of appeals court nominees, Democrats say they might then have justification to revisit Senate rules and claim new power to thwart filibusters. The D.C. appeals court is considered a route to the Supreme Court. The court decides many politically charged cases involving federal law and regulations. The court currently consists of four judges appointed by Republican presidents and three appointed by President Bill Clinton, with four vacancies, the most ever on that court. Five of the six semiretired senior judges who share the workload were nominated by Republican presidents.