Current Weather
The Spy FM

The Judicial Wars Flare As The Senate Blocks An Obama Nominee

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
December 6, 2011

Senate Republicans have blocked the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. A Senate majority of 54 voted to break the filibuster, but that number falls short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules.

Although Halligan won bipartisan praise from legal and law enforcement groups, Republicans portrayed her as a left-wing activist for positions she took while representing the state of New York as its chief appellate lawyer.

Prior to that Halligan had served as chief of the appellate section of a top-tier law firm. She now is counsel for the Manhattan district attorney. The American Bar Association gave her its highest rating. Democrats said that Republicans had deliberately twisted and mischaracterized her record.

The Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley, was candid about GOP reasons for opposing Halligan, all but conceding that it is payback for Democrats stalling on judicial nominations when George W. Bush was president. Grassley said that six of President Bush’s nominees, including now Chief Justice John Roberts, endured “delays, filibusters, multiple hearings, and other forms of obstruction.”

Grassley also noted that Halligan is only 44 and that the D.C. Circuit Court has often been a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday’s vote would seem to signal the end of a 2005 agreement between Democrats and Republicans to end the judicial wars in the Senate by barring filibusters except in extraordinary circumstances.

President Obama in a statement said that “the only extraordinary things about Halligan were her qualifications and her intellect.” Using unusually strong language, the president said Halligan “fell victim to a Republican pattern of obstructionism that puts party ahead of country.”

Mr. Obama said that Senate Republicans are currently blocking 20 other “highly qualified judicial nominees,” half of whom were nominated to fill vacancies deemed “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. He noted that most of these nominees were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a unanimous vote, “only to run into partisan roadblocks on the Senate floor.”

Only one Republican voted to end Tuesday’s filibuster. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski said judicial nominees deserve an up or down vote except in extraordinary circumstances, and that this was not such a circumstance. But she added that she would not have voted for Halligan’s confirmation. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

11PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 6AM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

6AM to 7AM Travel with Rick Steves

Travel with Rick Steves

"Travel with Rick Steves" is a fun, hour-long, and practical talk show with guest experts and calls and questions from travelers. This weekly program is a lively conversation between travelers and the experts as we learn to explore our world smartly, smoothly, and thoughtfully.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center