Wilkins joins Patricia Millett and Cornelia "Nina" Pillard as the most recent additions to the court. Another Obama nominee, Sri Srinivasan, joined the court in May. With those four picks now seated, Democratic appointees will hold a 7 to 4 majority on the bench.
With the fate of the appeals court in the balance, Republicans and Democrats spent the latter half of 2013 bickering over whether Obama's picks needed to be seated. Republicans argued that the court's caseload is considerably less than other federal appeals courts, but Democrats said the new judges were needed to replenish its ranks. Several retired judges, appointed by Republican presidents, continued hearing cases on a reduced schedule.
The issue came to a head in November, when Republicans blocked consideration of Wilkins, Millett and Pillard and other Obama picks to lead federal agencies. In response, Senate Democrats voted to change Senate procedure so that only a majority of senators need to agree to end debate on a nominee. Previously, at least 60 votes were required in order to proceed to a confirmation vote.