Bench Memos

On Confirmation of D.C. Circuit Nominee Pillard

Some things are most fittingly done in the dark of night. Not long after midnight, the Senate, by a 51-44 vote, confirmed President Obama’s nomination of hard-left law professor Cornelia Pillard to the D.C. Circuit. The confirmation, which was foreordained by Senate Democrats’ abolition of the filibuster, is bad news for the D.C. Circuit and for the country. But allow me to discern a silver lining or two.

For starters, three Senate Democrats—Pryor (Arkansas), Manchin (West Virginia), and Donnelly (Indiana)—voted against the Pillard nomination, and not a single Republican voted for it. (Four Republicans evidently weren’t present to vote, or the total against presumably would have been 48.)

What this vote means is that Republicans ought to continue to use Pillard and her terrible record (pregnancy as “conscription into maternity,” extremism against religious liberty, and much, much more) in making the broader case against what Obama is doing to the courts and to the country. The fact that three reputedly moderate Democrats voted against the Pillard nomination disables Democrats from effectively defending Pillard’s extremism.

Senator Pryor, who is running very scared, also can’t be permitted to hide behind his vote against Pillard. After all, he supported the filibuster abolition that made her confirmation possible—and that was designed to do exactly that. [11:30 a.m.: Oops. The preceding passage, now struck through, is mistaken: Pryor voted against the filibuster abolition. My apologies for relying on my memory.]

So, per my point 4 here, the Pillard record and vote give Republicans more ammunition to help turn 2014 into another 1994.

Any ambitions that Pillard might have had to use the D.C. Circuit as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court have also been dealt a severe blow.

Most Popular

Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Film & TV

Ted Lasso Nails Brits and Americans

Ever spent much time in England? I have. Spring of 2012, it rained for a month. I don’t mean intermittently. The clouds opened on April 1, and they didn’t close until May. It was like living under a waterfall. Ever notice that rain makes people a tad grumpy? I began to suspect a connection between the ... Read More
Film & TV

Ted Lasso Nails Brits and Americans

Ever spent much time in England? I have. Spring of 2012, it rained for a month. I don’t mean intermittently. The clouds opened on April 1, and they didn’t close until May. It was like living under a waterfall. Ever notice that rain makes people a tad grumpy? I began to suspect a connection between the ... Read More