“So this is not about principled opposition; this is about political obstruction,” Obama said.
In his remarks, Obama claimed that his judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of his Republican predecessor, and made that point twice for emphasis. Obama also acknowledged that Democrats, too, held up judicial nominations when he was in the Senate.
“But what's happening now is unprecedented,” Obama said. “For the good of the American people, it has to stop. Too much of the people's business is at stake. Our legal framework depends on timely confirmations of judicial nominees.”
Federal court nominations, which are made for life, represent an important part of a president’s legacy. And by moving three names at once, the president is signaling that he’s ready to use political capital on the matter. Critics of the president accused him of moving now to create a distraction from the troubles plaguing various federal agencies and departments, including the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department.
As expected, the president nominated a diverse trio of respected legal figures to the D.C. Circuit:
Patricia Ann Millett runs the Supreme Court practice at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C., and has argued 32 cases before the US Supreme Court – until recently, Obama said, a record for a female lawyer. She also served nine years, during both Democratic and Republican administrations, as an assistant to the solicitor general at the Justice Department.