Senate Blocks Judicial Nominee With Filibuster

Another of President Obama’s choices to fill a vacancy on a
powerful appeals court was blocked by a filibuster on Tuesday as
Senate Republicans stalled another White House nominee — the third
in two weeks — and deepened a festering conflict with Democrats
over presidential appointments. 

By a vote of 56
to 41, the nomination of Cornelia T. L. Pillard, a Georgetown law
professor, fell short of clearing the necessary 60-vote

Ms. Pillard’s record on issues like
abortion has troubled many conservatives. But Senate Republicans
have tried to frame their opposition to her not in terms of her
views on social issues, instead focusing on the matter of the
court’s caseload, which is lower than that of other federal appeals

The disagreements carried over onto the
Senate floor on Tuesday, as Democrats accused Republicans of
blocking a perfectly qualified woman for political purposes, while
Republicans said Democrats were desperately looking for a wedge

Looming beneath their disagreement
about Ms. Pillard is the prospect that the fight will escalate and
results in the changing of Senate rules to limit the minority
party’s ability to filibuster a president’s judicial

Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat
and majority leader, noted that in the last 19 years, the Senate
had confirmed only one woman to the court, which is widely
considered second in importance only to the Supreme Court.

“Support for Professor Pillard’s
nomination is bipartisan, at least outside the United States
Senate,” he said. “Yet Senate Republicans seem poised to block
confirmation of this eminently qualified woman for a blatantly
political reason — to deny President Obama his constitutional right
to appoint judges.” 

Senator Charles
E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa who is a senior member of the
Judiciary Committee, said Democrats were being

“When the other side runs out of
legitimate arguments, their last line of defense is to accuse
Republicans of opposing nominees based upon gender or race,” he
said. “It’s a well-worn card. And they play it every

He all but dared Democrats to change
the rules, saying it would come back to haunt them if they lose the
majority to Republicans. 

“Go ahead,” Mr.
Grassley said. “There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases that we’d
love to put on the bench.”

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