A Wee Question About Republicans and the DC Circuit Court

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Here’s the latest from the New York Times:

President Obama will nominate a slate of three candidates on Tuesday to fill the remaining vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a White House official said Monday.

The three candidates are people I’ve never heard of, but by this time tomorrow the internet will be bursting with people who are instant experts on all three. So no worries on that score. Instead I have a question for the hive mind.

We already know that Republicans are going to oppose all three of Obama’s nominees, but not because they’re mere obstructionists who are hellbent on preserving a conservative majority on the DC Circuit. Of course not. They’re going to oppose them because, based on its caseload, the DC Court is too big and should be pared back by three seats.

Now, the DC Circuit Court was expanded to 12 members back in 1984, so it’s been at that number for a long time. Then it got reduced to 11 seats in 2007 by a unanimous vote in the Senate. So here’s my question: Following the 2007 vote, are any Republicans on record complaining about the DC Court being too big prior to 2010 or so? It doesn’t seem likely, since in 2005 they confirmed Thomas Griffith as the (then) 11th member, and in 2006, after a couple of vacancies had opened up, they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as the (then) 10th member. So it sure seems as if Republicans thought the court needed more than eight members back when it was George Bush making the nominations.

But who knows? Maybe their arms were twisted and the record shows that most of them, in their heart of hearts, wanted to shrink the DC Circuit even before Obama became president. Can anyone provide any evidence of that?

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It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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