Monday, June 3, 2013

The Overlooked 3rd Branch

With all of Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) recent bloviating about the D.C. Circuit Court, it's enough to bring crocodile tears to your eyes.

Chuck is vewy, vewy upset that Obama might tip the D.C. Court into a more liberal-leaning court and now wants to shrink the court by eliminating the 3 vacancies.  Grassley was just fine with the court as is until this year.  What changed?  The retirement of Republican appointed judges. 

Until February of this year, the court had a Republican majority since 1986* (except for a brief period in 2002 when it was tied 4-4-4).  The last time it had 4 Democratic appointees was 2005.  1985/86 was the last time Democratic appointees were a majority of the court.  In 1985, Johnson appointee Edward Tamm died and Reagan appointed his replacement changing the court from 7 Ds - 4 Rs to 6-5-1.  Reagan filled a vacancy in 1986 and created a tie at 6-6.  Then Kennedy appointee James Wright took senior status in 1986 and created another vacancy.  Reagan filled the vacancy that year and Republicans got a majority.

The court expanded to 11 seats in 1979, 12 seats in 1984, and then back to to 11 seats in 2008.

Below is a chart of the D.C. Circuit Court and it's composition.  Democratic appointees in blue, Republicans in red, and vacancies in green.

Bottom line, Grassley is upset because Obama has a chance to take the court in a more leftward direction.

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