President Barack Obama expressed its frustration on Wednesday over Senate Republicans after blocking the confirmation of his chosen lawyer to become a federal appeals court judge in the District of Columbia.
It was the second time in two years that the Republicans blocked the confirmation of Caitlin J. Halligan because of her supposed “legal activism”, which irked the President.
“I am deeply disappointed that despite support from a majority of the United States Senate, a minority of Senators continues to block the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,” Obama said in a statement.
“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.”
Obama said that Halligan’s qualifications to become the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia are “beyond question” and her public service in New York as a solicitor general is “well within the mainstream.”
“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,” Obama noted, referring to the fast confirmation of the Senate to President George W. Bush’s nominees.
The Senate voted 51-41 in favor of her confirmation, while the needed number is 60. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the sole Republican who joined the Democrats for her support, The New York Times reported.
Halligan faced strong opposition from the Republicans because she advocated that gun manufacturers should be held responsible for criminal acts executed with their products.
“In short, Ms. Halligan’s record of advocacy and her activist view of the judiciary lead me to conclude that she would bring that activism to the court,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, during the voting process on Wednesday.
“Because of her record of activism, giving Ms. Halligan a lifetime appointment on the D.C. Circuit is a bridge too far.”
Texan Sen. Ted Cruz lauded the filibuster by the Republicans.
“Ms. Halligan’s record justifies the unusual step of denying cloture to a judicial nominee,” the Republican said in a statement. “She is a skilled litigator with a distinguished career, but she has repeatedly advanced extreme legal theories inconsistent with judicial restraint.”
But the number three Democrat, New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, said that the Republicans only wanted Obama’s appointment to be stalled.
“What’s going on is our colleagues want to keep the second-most important court in the land, the D.C. Circuit, vacant, because right now there are four vacancies and the majority of those on the court have been appointees of Republican presidents and, in fact, are very conservative,” Schumer said during the debate on Wednesday.