Finally! Radical Caitlin Halligan Withdraws Nomination To D.C. Court of Appeals

Well, it took three years, but Caitlin Halligan will not be a sitting on the D.C. Court of Appeals.  She’s known for her progressive political views and judicial activism, which were so far outside the mainstream that other courts rejected her legal arguments.  Ed Whelan at the National Review has documented her radical judicial philosophy.


In 2004, Halligan signed a report issued by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Committee on Federal Courts. As Ed Whelan has shown, this report, called “The Indefinite Detention of ‘Enemy Combatants’ and National Security in the Context of the War on Terror,” took extreme positions regarding the meaning of Due Process in the War on Terror — positions that the courts have rejected and that the Obama administration has had to retreat from.


Halligan has also tried to bankrupt gun manufacturers by urging in court that they be held liable for the actions of those who misuse their product when harm results to others. And she opposed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).


Halligan’s legal views on same-sex marriage are also problematic. In an opinion on the subject issued in her capacity as solicitor general of New York, she dismissed, with only the most cursory discussion, the possibility that the traditional definition of marriage might be justified by a state interest in “promoting procreation” and/or by an interest in the welfare of children. As Ed Whelan shows, Halligan’s analysis is one-sided and fails even to acknowledge counterarguments. This demonstrates extremism, superficiality, or both.


Yet, the Washington Post reported today that:

The White House has withdrawn the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, weeks after Republicans filibustered a vote on her nomination for the second time.

Halligan requested that President Obama withdraw her nomination.

“I am deeply grateful to you for your confidence in me, and your steadfast support of my nomination,” she wrote in a letter to the president. “After much reflection, I believe that the time has come for me to respectfully ask that you withdraw my pending nomination from further consideration by the United States Senate.”

Read Halligan’s letter.

In a statement, President Obama announced himself “deeply disappointed” that Halligan could not get an up-or-down vote.

Obama noted the abuse of the filibuster during this whole ordeal, but forgets that his party “pioneered” these tactics in the Senate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on March 11.

The tradition of allowing an up-or-down vote vanished a decade later when Mr. Reid and Senate Democrats began to wield the filibuster against GOP judicial nominees between 2001 and 2008.

These included Miguel Estrada (seven times), Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. According to the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Ed Whelan, Mr. Reid voted against cloture 25 times on 13 different judicial nominees, including Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

Democrats tried to filibuster Justice Alito in 2006 even after a much-ballyhooed deal by the so-called Senate Gang of 14 that was supposed to allow up-or-down votes except in “extraordinary circumstances.” A Senator from Illinois at the time, Barack Obama, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he joined the filibuster “because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values, you know.” Republicans are now applying that Obama Standard to Ms. Halligan, who is among Mr. Obama’s most liberal nominees



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