Every President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has appointed lawyers from across the country to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ("D.C. Circuit") and has been accused of ignoring the members of the D.C. Bar. The tradition of nationwide recruitment for appointment to the D.C. Circuit has served the District and the nation well, yielding some of the court's and America's finest judges.
The practice of seeking nominees nationally to fill vacancies on the D.C. Circuit recently faced a serious challenge. Many members of the D.C. Bar, who have long opposed this practice, developed a proposal to change the D.C. Circuit appointment procedure. The proposal, which the association circulated to federal judges, the Clinton Administration, and bar leaders, sought the establishment of an eleven-member judicial selection commission. The commission would have been comprised of seven members named by the D.C. Bar's board of governors and four members, including three non-lawyers, chosen by the D.C. Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton. The commission would have compiled the names of at least three possible candidates and forwarded them to the President or to the D.C. Delegate, who would have committed in advance to submit a recommendation from that list.
This Essay first examines the developments that led the D.C. Bar to draft the proposal. The Essay then critically evaluates the proposal by comparing it to the benefits of conducting a nationwide search for nominees to the D.C. Circuit. The Essay concludes that reliance on national pools is preferable and offers suggestions for future judicial selection in the D.C. Circuit.
Carl Tobias, Essay, The D.C. Circuit as a National Court, 48 U. Miami L. Rev. 159 (1993)