Joan Biskupic reports that President Obama is likely to become the first President “in at least half a century” to complete a term without placing someone on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This will happen unless the Senate reverses course and opts to confirm Caitlin Halligan, or the Administration quickly nominates a consensus candidate for one of the other two remaining openings on the court. There are eleven seats on the D.C. Circuit but only eight active judges, in addition to several judges with senior status who still hear cases.
As I’ve noted before, one sure way to get a judicial nominee confirmed to the D.C. Circuit would have been for President Obama to follow President Bush’s lead and renominate one of his predecessor’s stalled nominees. The most obvious candidates for such a move were two of Bush’s nominees to the Fourth Circuit, but there was also a strong candidate for the D.C. Circuit: Peter Keisler, who received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the ABA and whose confirmation was supported by, among others, the Washington Post and LA Times. Such a move is unlikely, as are other steps to reduce the partisan conflict over judicial nominations.