President Obama on Wednesday criticized Senate Republicans for blocking another of his judicial nominations. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images)
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a confirmation vote on President Obama’s nominee to serve on the nation’s second-highest federal court, reigniting a long-running battle on White House judicial nominees.
It was the second time Republicans have blocked a vote on Caitlin Halligan, whom Obama first nominated in 2011 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court second in importance only to the Supreme Court. Halligan had support from 51 senators but far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican opposition.
“Today’s vote continues the Republican pattern of obstruction,” Obama said in a statement following the vote. “My judicial nominees wait more than three times as long on the Senate floor to receive a vote than my predecessor’s nominees.”
According to the White House, 78 percent of Obama’s circuit court nominees have waited more than 100 days for a vote, compared with 15 days for President George W. Bush’s nominees. About 42 percent of district court nominees have waited more than 100 days for a vote, compared with eight days for Bush’s nominees.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said opposition to Halligan is substantive. Grassley, R-Iowa, pointed specifically to Halligan arguing when she was New York’s solicitor general that gun manufacturers could be liable for the criminal conduct of third parties and her endorsement of a 2004 New York City Bar Association report that said the indefinite detention of enemy combatants by the U.S. is not authorized by law.
“Based on her record, I simply do not believe she will be able to put aside her long record of liberal advocacy and be a fair and impartial jurist,” Grassley said.
Obama argued that in the past, filibusters of judicial nominations required “extraordinary circumstances.”
“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.
Aamer Madhani reports for USA Today.