Bench Memos

Making the Case Against D.C. Circuit Nominee Cornelia Pillard

Many articles about the filibuster battle over the D.C. Circuit have asserted that the three pending nominees are all moderates against whom Senate Republicans have no substantive objections.

There is in fact no reason to believe that any of the nominees is genuinely a moderate. For example, Patricia Millett, supposedly the most moderate of the three, is a member of the board of trustees of the left-wing Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 

Moreover, Senate Republicans have plenty of substantive objections to the record of Georgetown law professor Cornelia Pillard. As I’ve noted, folks who know Pillard well have described her to me as “Reinhardt in a skirt but less moderate” (that’s a reference to Ninth Circuit arch-activist Stephen Reinhardt) and as someone who threatens to be “the most left-wing judge in the history of the Republic.”

In advance of her rushed hearing, I wrote a five-part series of posts (see parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) on Pillard’s nomination and record. After her hearing, I also wrote two posts on her false and deceptive testimony. Here’s a rough guide:

Part 1: Rush to hearing prevents full review of Pillard’s record.

Part 2: Pillard shows all the signs of a pro-abortion extremist.

Part 3: Pillard’s vague standards of “egalitarian sex education” invite federal judicial micromanagement of the sex-education curricula of public schools and reveal her aggressive view of judicial power.

Part 4: Pillard’s constitutional argument against abstinence-only sex education is replete with illogic and with an ideologue’s dogmatic vision of reality.

Part 5: Pillard is an extremist against religious liberty.

Testimony, part 1: Pillard’s false and deceptive testimony about her sex-education article.

Testimony, part 2: Other false and deceptive statements by Pillard at her hearing.

Given that Democratic senator Patrick Leahy and others have attempted to use Millett’s husband (specifically, his military service) in support of her nomination, I look forward to their highlighting that Pillard’s husband is law professor David Cole, who, among other things, has been a leading critic on the Left on the national-security issues on which the D.C. Circuit plays an important role.

Now that the judicial filibuster has been abolished, it’s time for Senate Republicans to vigorously make the case against Pillard and to make it costly for Senate Democrats to vote to confirm her.


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