For the second time, Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to serve as a U.S. circuit judge for the District of Columbia, sparking an angry response from President Obama.
Halligan stalled in a 51-41 cloture vote today, with 60 votes needed to move forward.
“Make no mistake, Ms. Halligan is anything but a consensus nominee. The Senate has already considered and rejected her nomination. Nothing material has changed since that time,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said on the floor.
Republicans have warned Halligan would be a judicial activist on issues ranging from abortion to gun control.
“In 2003, while serving as Solicitor General of New York, Ms. Halligan approved and signed a legal brief arguing that handgun manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers should be held liable for criminal actions that individuals commit with the guns. Three years later in 2006, Ms. Halligan filed another brief arguing that handgun manufacturers were guilty of creating a public nuisance,” Lee said. “Such arguments amount to an invitation for courts to engage in sweeping judicial activism; and the positions she took are both bewildering and flatly inconsistent with the original understanding of the Second Amendment rights that all Americans enjoy.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Halligan’s record justified the “unusual step” of stalling a judicial nominee at the cloture vote.
“Whether on guns, marriage, or the legal standards applicable to alien terrorists, Ms. Halligan’s aggressive and consistent litigation agenda shows that she is not a suitable choice to serve on the critically important D.C. Circuit court,” he said.
Obama said he’s “deeply disappointed” in the GOP block.
“Nearly two and a half years after being nominated, Ms. Halligan continues to wait for a simple up-or-down vote. In the past, filibusters of judicial nominations required ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ and a Republican Senator who was part of this agreement articulated that only an ethics or qualification issue – not ideology – would qualify. Ms. Halligan has always practiced law with the highest ethical ideals, and her qualifications are beyond question. Furthermore, her career in public service and as a law enforcement lawyer, serving the citizens of New York, is well within the mainstream,” Obama said in a statement.
“Today’s vote continues the Republican pattern of obstruction. My judicial nominees wait more than three times as long on the Senate floor to receive a vote than my predecessor’s nominees. The effects of this obstruction take the heaviest toll on the D.C. Circuit, considered the Nation’s second-highest court, which now has only seven active judges and four vacancies. Until last month, for more than forty years, the court has always had at least eight active judges and as many as twelve. A majority of the Senate agrees that Ms. Halligan is exactly the kind of person who should serve on this court, and I urge Senate Republicans to allow the Senate to express its will and to confirm Ms. Halligan without further delay.”