Conservative Action Project
The Conservative Action Project, chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese and former Congressman David McIntosh, is designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together on behalf of common goals. Participants include the CEO’s of over 100 organizations representing all major elements of the conservative movement-economic, social and national security.
**This week, the liberal Democrats in the Senate are trying to force through President Obama’s court-packing scheme. Conservatives remain opposed for the reasons laid out below, and urge all Senators to vote no on any and all votes that would allow their confirmation.
Memo for the Movement
12 July 2013
Congress Must Stop the Obama Court-Packing Plan
President Obama is seeking to add three new judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, one of the most important but most underworked courts in the country. The move is a transparent attempt to evade our traditional system of checks and balances, turning an evenly divided court into a political rubber stamp for overreaching executive orders and agency actions.
- Congress should pass legislation to reduce the size of the D.C. Circuit to fit its actual workload. Legislation to this effect has been introduced by Senator Charles Grassley in the Senate and Rep. Tom Cotton in the House.
Issue in Brief:
- The Senate must reject any new nominee to the D.C. Circuit, regardless of that nominee’s party, background, or philosophy.
The D.C. Circuit’s workload has been in consistent decline in the last decade. According to United States Courts statistics, the number of pending appeals in the D.C. Circuit declined more than 10% between September 2005 and September 2012. There has also been a significant decline (more than 14%) in the number of cases filed in the D.C. Circuit. In fact, the court’s workload is now so low that it is not uncommon for the court to cancel argument dates because there are not enough cases.
But the court, which is largely responsible for reviewing the actions of the ever-growing administrative state, has served as one of the most effective checks on President Obama and his extreme agenda. According to liberal activist Nan Aron, “The court is critically important – the majority has made decisions that have frustrated the president’s agenda.”
President Obama and his Democratic allies have been especially hostile to the D.C. Circuit since it invalidated his non-recess appointments to the NLRB, after he tried to circumvent the constitution’s advice and consent process. Similarly, the court has been criticized by liberals for invalidating a burdensome and illegal EPA rule which would have shut down power plants and increased American energy costs.
Federal courts have been a very low priority for most of President Obama’s tenure. But he has learned that a court that abides by the Constitution and traditional legal principles is a serious threat to his plan to insulate the administrative state from accountability. Here are just a few examples of cases President Obama would like to see decided by a politically motivated D.C. Circuit:
- The lawsuit filed recently by a group of small business owners in six states seeking to invalidate a key IRS regulation imposed by Obamacare.
- A constitutional challenge to Dodd-Frank, the massive bill that institutionalized taxpayer funded bailouts for big banks.
- A challenge to the HHS contraceptive mandate, which forces religious organizations to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, or pay crippling fines.
- Lawsuits challenging EPA regulations designed to stop fracking, the oil and gas extraction technique that has yielded a significant decrease in energy costs.
- Lawsuits against IRS officials who wrongfully targeted American citizens because of their viewpoints.
To guarantee the desired political outcome in such cases, President Obama seeks to do exactly what President Franklin Roosevelt did when his agenda faced constitutional problems in the Supreme Court: pack the court with allies who will decide cases on the basis of politics instead of the Constitution and traditional legal principles. Or, as Senator Chuck Schumer put it, Democrats“will fill up the D.C. Circuit one way or another.”
One way they plan to “fill up the D.C. Circuit” is to put pressure on Republican Senators who fear that Majority Leader Harry Reid will use this opportunity to abolish the filibuster, destroying the minority party’s ability to debate important legislation. But no Senator should fall for that trap. Republicans have treated President Obama’s judicial nominees fairly, confirming more than 111 of them during the 112th Congress, more than during any other Congress in 20 years. According to President Obama, his nominees have waited “three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessors.”
But that is simply not true. During his entire first term, President Obama’s appellate nominees waited an average of 240 days from nomination to confirmation. By contrast, President George W. Bush’s nominees waited an average of 283, and some waited for years.
No spin on the statistics will make it any easier for President Obama or Senator Reid to prove the existence of a crisis, because none exists. This is nothing more than a transparent attempt to evade our traditional system of checks and balances, turning an evenly divided court into a political rubber stamp for overreaching executive orders and agency actions. It must be stopped.
Faith & Freedom Coalition