In November, amid the Obamacare rollout disaster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Republicans’ “unprecedented obstruction” had forced his hand, he had no choice but to invoke the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for most judicial and executive-level nominees.
Really, though, the true motive was to pack D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-most powerful court in the country, with Leftist judges appointed by President Barack Obama. The court regularly hears legal cases dealing with regulations and rules written by federal agencies. It has also been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration.
Although he’s denied in speeches on the Senate floor, Reid admitted that he was trying to tilt the court during an August 2013 interview with a Nevada radio station. “We’re focusing very intently on the D.C. Circuit,” said Reid, according to Talking Points Memo. “We need at least one more [seat filled]. There’s three vacancies. And that will switch the majority. So we’re working on it.”
That brings us to the yesterday’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell, in which a three-judge panel court ruled that the IRS acted outside of its statutory authority by extending subsidies to consumers who enrolled through the federal Obamacare Exchange.
Reid seems pretty confident that the full D.C. Circuit Court, where the Justice Department plans to seek a hearing in the case, will reverse the panel’s ruling. Why? Because judges appointed by Democratic presidents are in the majority. After all, he helped make that happen:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) believes that a D.C. Circuit Court panel’s invalidation of an IRS regulation that governs Obamacare subsidies vindicates his decision to move forward with the nuclear option, a procedural move that made it easier to confirm President Obama’s judicial nominees.
“I think if you look at simple math, it does,” Reid told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Because of the nuclear option — when Reid broke the Senate rules to change the Senate rules pertaining to the filibuster of judicial nominees — Senate Republicans were unable to block three of Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, Democrats have a 7-4 majority on the court.
Politico has also highlighted the White House’s strategy, surmising that legal threats to Obamacare were one reason why President Obama and Senate Democrats acted to pack the D.C. Circuit Court.
Now, the D.C. Circuit Court probably won’t have the final say on Halbig. As noted earlier, the Supreme Court will likely wind up with the case at some point down the road. It’s also important to remember that President Obama has more than two years left in office. If Republicans want to stop him from appointing even more Leftist judges, they need to concentrate on booting Reid from his current Senate post.