Despite pleas from the chief judge of the Court of Federal Claims to fill five vacancies on the court that oversees claims against the government, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) is blocking confirmation votes for five Obama nominees, ensuring the court remains solidly pro-business.
According to Roll Call, Cotton has blocked the nominees saying the court doesn’t need the additional justices despite a caseload 2,528 cases on its docket in 2014. Currently the court has eight Republicans appointees compared to only three appointed by Democrats, giving it a overwhelming conservative slant.
Cotton’s old law firm, Cooper & Kirk, sells itself as a “go-to firm” for businesses suing the government in large cases and is currently representing several clients in cases before the court. According to federal records, the firm’s employees were large contributors to Cotton in 2012 and in 2014, making about one third of their total campaign contributions in 2014 to Cotton.
Voting and approving the five Obama appointees would create an 8 GOP appointee, 8 Democratic appointee balance that would not be in the best interests of the boutique law firm.
According to a representative from Public Citizen, Cotton’s move has all the hallmarks of a conflict of interest.
“It certainly has an appearance of conflict of interest,” said Craig Holman. “If anyone knows the court is sufficiently staffed it would be the court itself.”
This is not the first time the first term senator has been accused of tailoring his comments to suit the views of big time contributors.
The saber-rattling Republican — who notoriously sent a threatening letter to the leaders of Iran — has been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups allied with Israel, while meeting privately with defense contractors.