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Senate Committee approves Obama nominee for D.C. Circuit

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line, 10-8 vote Thursday, approved the nomination of Georgetown law professor and former Justice Department lawyer Nina Pillard to be a judge on the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Her chances of confirmation by the full Senate, however, may fall in the  slim to none range. The vote overcame, for now, strong opposition from Republicans who said Pillard held exeme” and “activist” views.

Pillard is the second of three Obama nominees approved by the committee for longstanding vacancies on the D. C. Circuit, often called the second most important court in the country.

Another nominee, Patricia Millett, also was a approved on a straight 10-8 party vote in committee Aug. 1, though Republicans didn’t criticize her qualifications, arguing that the court didn’t need any more judges.The third nominee, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, is expected to have a committee vote in the next few weeks.

It appears likely that Senate Republicans will move to block confirmation of all three nominees, preserving the existing Republican-Democratic  4-4 split on the appeals court.

In other committee news, Kristine Lucius, who has been with the committee for 11 years has replaced Bruce Cohen, who had been the committee’s staff director since 1997.

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