Senate Democrats moved Monday to schedule a confirmation hearing for Patricia Millett, one of President Obama's three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The hearing will be on July 10, said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), saying Millett "should have broad bipartisan support."
It comes as top Republicans are attacking President Obama for trying to fill vacancies on what is widely considered the second most powerful federal court, and which often settles disputes about executive power. They argue that the court's caseload means the vacancies need not be filled, a claim that Democrats scoff at.
"It is disappointing," Leahy said in an afternoon statement, "that the same Republican Senators who said during the George W. Bush administration that the D.C. Circuit should have 11 filled judgeships, and who voted to confirm President Bush’s nominees for the ninth, tenth, and eleventh seats, now, when there is a President of the other party in the White House, say that those seats should not be filled."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, argued in a USA Today op-ed that "[t]he Senate should not consider another nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit until the need to fill this vacancy is clear and while more pressing vacancies on other courts have not been filled."