January 13, 2014, 06:22 pm
Senate confirms third judicial nominee to DC Court
By Pete Kasperowicz
The Senate voted 55-43 on Monday to confirm Robert Wilkins to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wilkins was one of three Circuit Court judges blocked by Republicans last year, before Senate Democrats changed the Senate's filibuster rules.
In November, Democrats unilaterally changed the Senate rules to advance most executive branch and judicial nominations with a simple-majority vote, bypassing the need for 60 votes to break a minority filibuster. That change allowed Democrats to revisit Wilkins' nomination last week, when the Senate ended debate on the nomination by a simple majority, instead of a 60-vote threshold.
Last week's vote allowed the Senate to confirm him today, again by a simple majority vote.
Republicans have said ending the filibuster forever changes the Senate for the worse, and have complained that the rule change depleted minority party rights in the chamber.
"In one fell swoop, the majority leader did more damage to the institution than I've witnessed in more than three decades of service here in the Senate," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said just before the final vote on Wilkins.
Before the rule change, Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominees to the court, saying the seats were no longer needed because of the light caseload in the DC Circuit. Grassley made that same argument again today.
Democrats have rejected this argument, saying Republicans have opposed the nominations for political reasons.