The Corner

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D.C. Circuit in The Balance?


“Conservatives are on the verge of controlling the second most powerful court in the United States.” So begins Chris Mooney’s TAP article on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Mooney suggests that Senate confirmation of John Roberts and Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit will shift the court to the right. The D.C. Circuit is currently split between four Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees, so their confirmation would crate a 6-4 split. What Mooney doesn’t say is that the Court was split 6-4 during the last few years of the Clinton presidency. Republican appointees Larry Silberman and Stephen Williams took senior status in November 2000 and September 2001 respectively. Moreover, James Buckley, another Republican appointee, heard cases as a Senior Judge until September 2000 as well. In other words, confirming Estrada and Roberts won’t “tilt” the court, so much as it will restore the status quo ante.