The Democratic Senate is attacking voting rights, choice, and health reform

The District of Columbia Circuit Court is the most important Federal appeals court in the nation. Cases involving regulation (such as environmental to labor law), government powers and  voting rights go to this Court which is currently dominated by far right wing Republican activists. Judges include Janice Brown, a fan of Ayn Rand who claims that the New Deal was a “socialist revolution”, Laurence Silberman, and David Sentelle (the man who appointed Ken Starr).

The Court majority is ferociously partisan. A recent decision overturned 200 years of uncontroversial Presidential use of recess appointments to paralyze the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  GOP Senators prevented President Obama’s nominees from being confirmed to the NLRB and then their partners in the DC Court prevented the President from exercising a power exercised by Presidents since George Washington’s term.  And this type of judicial activism is not unusual for this Court. Janice Rogers has even argued that the Court should strike down the 40 hour work week rule as a violation of “freedom of contract”.

There are THREE (3) vacant positions on this Court and there is a Democratic majority in the Senate. Yet Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, and Senator Harry Reid have failed to even get hearings for President Obama’s nominees. One nominee was left hanging for two years before she asked the President to withdraw her name from consideration.  Leahy is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and seems content to whine impotently when Republicans on the Judiciary Committee stall nominations forever. This despite the fact that when the Republicans were in the majority,they routinely ignored Democratic objections and so-called Senate tradition to ram their radical right wing nutball nominees - like Janice Rogers - through. Levin is an enormously influential Senator who is reportedly the main barrier to a reform of filubuster rules that would let the Senate even vote on judicial nominations. The Republicans have flat out refused to let the Senate do what the Consitution mandates and consider nominations by the elected President. And Levin  apparently considers protecting Senate procedures more important than protecting the Constitution and has blocked filibuster reform. Reid is the majority leader, and has the unenviable task of trying to move a weak Senate majority in the face of intractable opposition.

And there’s another crucial nominee: the new head of the FBI. If the Administration is going to enforce environmental and voting rights laws, it needs the FBI to be doing it’s job.


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