Only in the rarefied air of the middle school clique that is Washington does the president doing his constitutionally mandated job of appointing judges become a battle.
President Obama’s announcement of three nominees to an important federal appeals court on Tuesday is adding fuel to a larger fight on Capitol Hill over whether the minority party in the Senate has too much power to thwart a president’s agenda.
In a formal Rose Garden ceremony normally reserved for Supreme Court hopefuls and prominent cabinet nominees, Mr. Obama announced plans to fill, at the same time, all three vacancies on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Republicans quickly objected, saying that Mr. Obama and his Senate allies were trying to intimidate them into approving the nominees.
The fight has major implications for Mr. Obama’s agenda and legacy, the judicial system and Capitol Hill politics.
The Republicans are calling this “court packing,” which is utter bullshit because there are three vacancies on the court. Packing would be adding more judges than were there already.
It doesn’t matter who he picked; President Obama could have selected the most conservative judges in the country and Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley would still scream like turkeys. And as long as the Very Serious People in the village are concerned more about who wins the fight than what it might actually do for the law and the people, they’ll get away with it.