The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Georgetown University Law Center professor Cornelia “Nina” Pillard’s nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to the full Senate on Thursday, and Georgetown Law students have banded together to show their support through Hoya Lawyers for Nina Pillard.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 along party lines in favor of Pillard’s nomination. The full Senate must now approve Pillard’s nomination with at least 51 votes out of 100, although 60 votes are required to pass a cloture motion, which would protect the nomination from a filibuster.

Before the vote Thursday, Hoya Lawyers for Nina Pillard launched, along with a Facebook page, Twitter account and Google+ page. The website invites visitors to sign a statement of support.

According to group member Bradley Girard (LAW ’14), the group has expanded into the hundreds, although he was unsure of exact numbers, and the statement has received a similar number of signatures.

Although Hoya Lawyers for Nina Pillard has not formed any official partnerships with on-campus organizations, Girard said that several groups have offered support. In particular, several faith groups have organized to write an interfaith letter of support.

Girard added that the group had been confident that Pillard’s nomination would pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the group believes Pillard would pass the full Senate vote as well.

“She has a broad base of support, including some pretty prominent conservatives and people who fall on all sides of the ideological spectrum,” Girard said. “Not only is she a highly accomplished lawyer and really fair-minded, she’s very committed.”

In contrast, the Blog of LegalTimes reported that several Republican members, such as ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), were wary of Pillard during the committee vote.

Grassley said that he thought President Barack Obama was attempting to “pack” the D.C. Circuit Court, with Pillard as the second of three Obama nominees to the D.C. Circuit court.

“The justification for moving forward with additional D.C. Circuit nominees appears to be a desire and intent to pack the court in order to determine the outcome of cases this court hears,” Grassley said during the vote. “It is no secret that this is the president’s intent.”

Democrats, however, have countered that filling vacancies is not “packing” the court. Rather, they claim that it is filling a need and alleviating the workload on the remaining members of the 11-judge court.

According to the LegalTimes, if the Republicans threaten again to filibuster or block Obama’s current three nominees to the D.C. Circuit court, Senate Democrats will threaten to change the Senate’s filibuster rules with regard to confirmation votes.

Regardless of Obama’s intent, however, other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were wary of Pillard’s qualifications. Although Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he respected Pillard’s skills as an attorney and that he attempted to avoid party loyalty biases, he said he thought Pillard’s views were too “political activist.”

“Her writings … do not simply take a liberal position but adopt a rigid ideology that clearly drives not only her view of the law but even her understanding of social facts,” Hatch said during the vote.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), however, argued that the same could be said of previous Republican nominees. Possessing strong political opinions is not paradoxical to being a fair judge, Feinstein said.

“I guess Republicans tend to believe the Democratic nominees who have a position on controversial issues cannot be fair judges, and yet, when the reverse happens, they all believe activist Republicans can be a fair judge,” Feinstein said. “I voted for some of [those Republicans], there’s no question of that, because I believe they can.”

The date for Pillard’s vote in front of the full Senate has not been announced.

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