Robert Wilkins’ D.C. Circuit Confirmation Vote Set

, Legal Times

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Judge Robert Wilkins testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Judge Robert Wilkins testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Senate is expected to confirm U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins to a key Washington federal appeals court Monday afternoon.

The Senate voted 55-38 on Thursday to advance the nomination of Wilkins to a final vote. Wilkins was one of three of Obama's simultaneous nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Senate last year confirmed Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard.

Wilkins only needs the support of Senate Democrats to win confirmation. If he's confirmed, Wilkins would be the fourth Obama pick since May to take a seat on the D.C. Circuit.

Wilkins' confirmation vote represents the tail end of a partisan confirmation fight over the D.C. Circuit. After Republicans thwarted the nominations from getting confirmation votes, Democrats turned to the "nuclear option" to strip the minority party of its power to block presidential nominations (the Supreme Court excepted).

In December, the Senate used the streamlined process to confirm two judges to the D.C. Circuit—Millett, a former Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner and Pillard, who taught at Georgetown University Law Center.

The confirmation of all Obama's D.C. Circuit picks would shift the balance of active judges from an even split—four Republican appointees and four Democratic appointees—to a 7-4 advantage for Democrats. Republican-appointed judges would have a 9-8 advantage counting senior judges, who sit on hearing panels and write opinions.

Obama's first successful appointment to the D.C. Circuit came in May, when the Senate confirmed former O'Melveny & Myers appellate partner Sri Srinivasan. He left the Office of the Solicitor General to join the bench.

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