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.