Morning Action: Obama Uses Judicial Nominees to Distract from Scandals

JUDICIAL NOMINEES.  President Obama has attempted to shift the public’s focus from the scandals in his administration, the IRS, Benghazi, and the DOJ to judicial nominees; he would like to emphasize so-called Republican “obstructionism” if Republicans should oppose his nominees.  Obama decided to nominate three more judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most powerful court in the nation, a move that is seen as “deliberately provocative” by Republicans:

The decision to appoint new judges is a clear indication that the White House is closely working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat has repeatedly expressed frustration this year with GOP tactics, and is considering changing the upper chamber’s procedures for judicial nominees.

The new nominees, who have yet to be named, could decide the fate of Obama’s two biggest legislative accomplishments — the 2010 Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act — which fall under the D.C. Circuit’s jurisdiction. The court is also expected to handle Obama’s anticipated attempt to combat climate change through regulations, which will attract a slew of legal challenges.

Democratic operatives say Obama needs to move past the controversies over the IRS and the Departments of State and Justice, which they argue have been largely trumped up by Republicans. 

Republicans think the maneuver has another aim: to build public support for triggering the nuclear option, a controversial tactic to change the Senate’s rules with a simple majority vote. 

If Republicans use filibusters to stymie the appellate court nominees — along with the nominations of Richard Cordray, Obama’s choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Gina McCarthy, his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Tom Perez, the nominee for Labor secretary — Democrats say they will be justified in changing the rules by a party-line vote.  

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