In a Senate floor speech today Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) chastised the GOP for blocking votes on all the women judges President Barack Obama has nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Republicans now hold the dubious distinction of having filibustered all three women that President Obama nominated to D.C. Circuit,” Senator Warren said.
Now, collectively, these three women have diverse experiences in private practice, in government, and in public interest law. Between them, they have argued an amazing 45 cases before the Supreme Court, and have participated in many more. All three have the support of a majority of Senators. So why have they been filibustered?
The reason is simple. They are caught in a fight over the future of our courts – a fight over whether the courts will be a neutral forum that decides every dispute fairly, or whether the courts will be stacked in favor of the wealthy and the powerful.
Senator Warren also warned that “pretty soon you’ll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.”
Three well-respected legal scholars – including Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, a distinguished judge and conservative Reagan appointee – recently examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. The researchers concluded that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top ten most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century – and Justices Alito and Roberts? Numbers one and number two.
Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce in cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber moved from a 43% win-rate during the last five terms of the Burger Court, to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, to a 70% win rate with the Roberts Court. Follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and pretty soon you’ll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.
Warren the railed against the “lopsided” conservative courts, which are deciding critical cases in our nation’s history.
Let’s be clear – nine of the 14 judges on the D.C. Circuit who currently hear cases were appointed by Republican Presidents. The President with the most appointees on that court right now is Ronald Reagan. And this lopsided court has been busy – striking down environmental regulations that stop companies from spewing mercury into the air we breathe – striking down investor protections that hold corporate boards accountable – striking down a requirement for employers to provide access to birth control under Obamacare.
Each of these regulations exists because Congress has passed laws telling the agencies to write them. Now, it’s true that sometimes an agency may get it wrong. But these days, the D.C. Circuit seems to be finding more and more ways to help bail out the businesses that never wanted to be regulated in the first place.
Republicans have noticed what’s going on with this lopsided court. They would like to keep things the way they are, and they have not been subtle about it. Many Republicans have talked openly of their opposition to any new judges to fill the three vacancies on this court precisely because the new nominees will give the court more balance and fairness.
Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lobbyists and lawyers a second chance to undercut the will of Congress. But that’s not the job of judges. Judges aren’t supposed to make law. Judges aren’t supposed to tilt politically one way or the other.
Republicans may not like Wall Street Reform. They may not like Obamacare. But Congress passed those laws. President Obama signed those laws. President Obama ran for reelection on those laws, while his opponent pledged to repeal them—and his opponent lost by nearly five million votes. It is not up to judges to overturn those laws or their associated regulations just because they don’t fit the judges’ policy preferences.
President Obama won – the GOP must stop blocking votes on women judges http://t.co/WbhDlxE01o
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) November 13, 2013
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