The Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced the nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The committee voted 10-8 along party lines to approve Wilkin's nomination, which now moves to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised the qualifications of Wilkins, a former Venable partner who is now a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Republicans voted against Wilkins on the same grounds they rejected Obama's two other nominations to the D.C. Circuit. "The D.C. Circuit simply does not need more judges at this time," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said before the vote. Democrats dispute that claim.
The D.C. Circuit's rulings on environment regulations, securities laws and communications regulations, among other areas, have national sweep. The court has eight active judges, split between appointments under Democrat and Republican presidents.
Wilkins and the other nominees to the D.C. Circuit are caught up in a broader political battle over the court. Senate Democrats have pushed forward for a full Senate vote—expected today—on D.C. Circuit nominee Patricia Millett, an Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld appellate partner.