01.14.14

Senate Confirms Wilkins To The D.C. Circuit

WASHINGTON (Monday, January 13, 2014) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Monday applauded the confirmation of Robert Wilkins to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. With Wilkins’s confirmation, the D.C. Circuit now has a full complement of 11 active judges.

“As we begin 2014, I hope we can set aside our differences and do what is best for this country by confirming qualified nominees to fill critical vacancies facing our Federal Judiciary,” Leahy said in a statement, referencing the record high number of judicial vacancies across the country.

Leahy called Wilkins “an outstanding nominee,” who with his confirmation today, becomes just the sixth African American in history to serve on the powerful D.C. Circuit.

“Despite the progress made in the past several decades, the struggle to diversify our Federal bench continues,” Leahy said. “I am proud to support the nomination of Judge Wilkins today and to support other highly qualified nominees whose diverse personal and professional background help further enrich the judiciary.” 

While he praised the historic nature of Wilkins’s nomination, Leahy noted the unprecedented obstruction by Republicans to filling vacancies throughout the country. Senate Republicans refused to allow any pending judicial nominations to be approved at the end of last year, forcing the unprecedented return of 65 judicial and executive nominees to the White House at the end of last year. President Obama renominated nearly all of these nominees at the beginning of this year, forcing the Judiciary Committee to reconsider dozens of nominees that were approved last year at a time when the judicial vacancy rate stands above 90.

“We must not take for granted that we have the greatest justice system in the world,”  Leahy said. “The Senate must act to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent.”

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