Obama Tells GOP 'Don't Play Games' as He Nominates 3 Judges

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President Obama today slammed Senate Republicans who he says have "cynically used Senate rules and procedures to delay and even block qualified nominees," as he made an unusually public point of nominating three judges to serve on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

"This is not about principled opposition; this is about political obstruction," the president said in a Rose Garden statement.

The public event to nominate Washington attorney Patricia Millett, Georgetown Law professor Cornelia "Nina" Pillard and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins to the influential court was intended to ramp up pressure on Senate Republicans to confirm more of the president's judicial nominees.

"My judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor," Obama said. "What's happening now is unprecedented. For the good of the American people, it has to stop. Too much of the people's business is at stake. Our legal framework depends on timely confirmations of judicial nominees."

Obama asked for swift confirmation of Millet, a career attorney in administrations of both parties, Pillard, a former senior Department of Justice official, and Judge Robert Wilkins, who was confirmed unanimously for the D.C. District Court in 2010.

The president fired back against Republican accusations that he is trying to revive President Roosevelt's "court packing" plan to add additional seats to the court to gain support for his political agenda.

"We're not adding seats here. We're trying to fill seats that are already existing," Obama said. "I didn't just wake up one day and say, 'Let's add three seats to the District Court of Appeals.' These are open seats. And the Constitution demands that I nominate qualified individuals to fill those seats. What I'm doing today is my job. I need the Senate to do its job."

"Republican senators are now pushing a proposal to reduce the number of judges on this independent federal court also makes no sense. When a Republican was president, 11 judges on the D.C. Circuit Court made complete sense. Now that a Democrat is president, it apparently doesn't. Eight is suddenly enough," he said to laughter. "People are laughing because it's obviously a blatant political move."

Obama said his three nominees were uniquely qualified for the positions. "These three individuals are highly qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit. They have broad bipartisan support from across the legal community. The nonpartisan American Bar Association has given them, each of them its highest rating. These are no slouches," he said. "These are no hacks. These are incredibly accomplished lawyers, by all accounts.

"There's no reason, aside from politics, for Republicans to block these individuals from getting an up-or-down vote," he said. "It's important we don't play games here."

Obama asked for swift confirmation of Millet, a career attorney in administrations of both parties, Pillard, a former senior Department of Justice official, and Judge Robert Wilkins, who was confirmed unanimously for the D.C. District Court in 2010.

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