Today, the Senate will vote on whether the Honorable Robert Wilkins of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will receive an up-or-down vote on his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Judge Wilkins is the third of three recent outstanding nominees to be considered by the full Senate. Both prior nominees—Patricia Millett and Professor Cornelia (“Nina”) Pillard—were filibustered.
Judge Wilkins is exceedingly well-qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit. He graduated from Harvard Law School and then clerked for the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Judge Wilkins subsequently joined D.C.’s Public Defender Service (“PDS”), widely considered one of the best in the country, where he served first as a staff attorney, and later as head of the Special Litigation division. He left PDS in 2000 to work full-time without pay towards the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In large part as a result of Judge Wilkins’ efforts, the museum will open in 2015. Judge Wilkins subsequently joined the law firm Venable LLP as a partner. At Venable, he continued his commitment to the public good by devoting thousands of hours to pro bono work on civil rights, child custody, asylum, Social Security benefit denial, and other cases. Judge Wilkins’ current position on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is only the latest accomplishment in his impressive legal career. Based on his outstanding record, he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2010, and has served with distinction ever since. Judge Wilkins received a unanimous “Well-Qualified” rating from the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary both for his nomination to the district court and for his current nomination to the D.C. Circuit.
Since Judge Wilkins was nominated along with appellate litigator Patricia Millet and Georgetown University Law Center Professor Nina Pillard, a determined group of Senators insist it is unnecessary to have these nominees join the eight judges on this court when it seats 11. The D.C. Circuit hears complex administrative and regulatory cases of national import, and, as such, requires a full complement of judges. Here’s hoping that, having recently concluded that the federal government should be open to do the people’s business, Senators act accordingly and allow an up-or-down vote on the third of the three nominees to the second-most important court in the country.