Senate Republicans on Monday blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of Robert L. Wilkins to a key appellate court, continuing a nomination fight that has stoked partisan tensions in the Senate.
Wilkins, a District Court judge in Washington who in 2010 was confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote, was nominated to fill one of three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He is the third straight nominee to the powerful court that Republicans have stopped from being seated.
The Senate voted 53-38 in favor of ending Republican-led delays, falling short of the 60 votes required to advance Wilkins' nomination. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voted with Democrats to end debate.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is often referred to as the second most powerful court in the country, after the Supreme Court. Informally known as the D.C. circuit, the court's influence stems from its caseload — it rules on administration orders and regulations — and because some of its judges become Supreme Court justices. The D.C. circuit currently has eight active judges evenly divided between Democratic and Republican nominees.