Last Friday, Caitlin Halligan, the highly qualified nominee to the D.C. Circuit who had been subjected to two filibusters, asked the President to withdraw her name. Despite her impeccable qualifications and the bipartisan support of her peers, the legal and law enforcement community, and numerous organizations across the country, and despite the fact that four out of the eleven seats on the D.C. Circuit are vacant, every Republican Senator except Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski refused to allow an up-or-down vote on her nomination. Read more »
We don’t always get a second chance to make things right. But tomorrow, obstructionists in the U.S. Senate do. In December 2011, every Republican Senator, save one (Senator Lisa Murkowski) filibustered the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Tomorrow, the Senate will get a second chance to allow this outstanding nominee to receive an up-or-down vote.
The delays in her confirmation have only caused more problems for this court, and the public at large, during the thirteen months since the first vote to move to consider Caitlin Halligan’s nomination failed. Instead of three open seats on the D.C. Circuit, as there were in 2011, there are now four – making the D.C. Circuit the appellate court with the highest number of vacancies in the country. Now seven judges must do the work meant for a full eleven-judge court. With each vacancy, each judge’s caseload of complex, nationally important cases has grown. What else has changed? Well, since President Obama won a second term, the virtual total shutdown of the confirmation process has ended. So now is clearly the time to move the Halligan nomination forward, to a consideration of her excellent record – and a confirmation vote. Read more »
March is Women's History Month, which affords us the opportunity to reflect on how far we've come in this country, and how far we have yet to go. And in many respects, recent events in the Congress illustrate both themes. For example, the last day of February, the Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, with even stronger protections for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT women. Yet it was a long and hard-fought battle, despite this law's proven effectiveness is combating domestic violence and the overwhelming bipartisan support the law has enjoyed over time.
Another example? Diversity on our federal courts. President Obama’s Administration has nominated more women and people of color for judgeships than any previous Administration in history. President Obama already has appointed more minority women judges than President Bush or President Clinton. As a result, the percentage of active women judges on the federal bench has increased from slightly above 25% to over 30% since 2009. For the first time in history, moreover, three women serve on the Supreme Court at one time. And of course, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court, became the first Hispanic to sit on the highest court in the land. Read more »
For the second time, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to approve President Obama’s nomination of Caitlin Halligan to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Ms. Halligan, a talented appellate lawyer, was first nominated in September 2010, and an outpouring of bipartisan support quickly followed from prominent lawyers, law-enforcement officials, women’s legal organizations, and others from around the country. Even so, a minority of Senators insisted on filibustering her nomination, and they have succeeded in blocking it so far. In the meantime, the number of vacancies on this important court has grown, and now there are an alarming four vacancies on this 11-judge court. Now that the President has resubmitted her nomination, and the Committee has again approved it, it is high time that a confirmation vote is held before the full Senate. Read more »