The judicial nomination of Caitlin Halligan for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals was blocked by Senate Republicans on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press.
On one side of the aisle, Democrats praised Halligan's outstanding qualifications for the seat left vacant by Chief Justice John Roberts. Halligan, a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, was a clerk for D.C. Circuit of Appeals Judge Patricia M. Wald and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. After her prestigious clerkships, she worked both in the private sector (most recently as a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges) and the public sector (she currently serves as general counsel in the Manhattan district attorney's office).
However, the other side of the aisle disapproved of her reputation as a liberal activist, and the vote ended at 54-45, six short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
The political catfight over Halligan will likely bring tensions to a boil over the implications of politics on judicial nominations. Although five of President Barack Obama's previous appellate nominees have gone smoothly through the process since September, Republicans may still be nursing old wounds. Blocking Halligan might have been payback for past Democratic opposition to Republican nominees to the same seat, according to the AP.
Obama did not take the filibuster quietly, stating his disappointment at the "Republican pattern of obstructionism that puts party ahead of country."
Halligan has had to endure the second-longest nomination term among the current appellate nominees, waiting patiently since her nomination in September 2010, while other nominees undergoing similar postponements, eventually withdrew their nominations.
- Senate Confirms Evan Wallach for Federal Circuit (FindLaw's Federal Circuit blog)
- In Defense of the Filibuster (FindLaw's Writ)
- Is the GOP or Obama to Blame for Slow Pace of Judicial Nominations? (FindLaw's Courtside)