Democrats threaten to renew filibuster fight if Republicans block appeals court nominee

Senate Democrats say they will renew their fight over filibuster rules if Republicans block the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Millett, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, was nominated to fill the seat left open when John Roberts left become chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Millett is “a key flashpoint” for Republicans who say Obama is trying to push the important appeals court to the left, the Associated Press reports. The appeals court’s active judges are now split 4-4 between Democratic and Republican nominees.

If Millett does not get 60 votes to overcome a filibuster on Thursday, Democrats say they will be forced to revisit the so-called “nuclear option,” which involves changing Senate rules to limit filibusters, according to AP, the New York Times and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said at a press conference on Tuesday that, if Millett is successfully filibustered, “the pressure to change the rules would be almost insurmountable.” He said Millett had argued 32 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. “If we were dealing with logic and honesty and what’s best for the court, we’d have 100 votes,” he said.

Other Obama nominees to the D.C. Circuit are Georgetown law professor Cornelia “Nina” Pillard and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins. Republicans argue the court’s workload doesn’t justify the need for any of the nominees.

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