Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tough Tiddlywinks, Mr. President

After the Senate Republicans successfully filibustered Caitlin Halligan's nomination for the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, you knew that Obama would release some self-serving accusing the Republicans of obstruction. Unlike in many other things the White House did not disappoint us here. Their statement is below:

Statement by the President on Republican Filibuster of Caitlin Halligan

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. Nearly two and a half years after being nominated, Ms. Halligan continues to wait for a simple up-or-down vote. 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. 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.

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. The effects of this obstruction take the heaviest toll on the D.C. Circuit, considered the Nation’s second-highest court, which now has only seven active judges and four vacancies. Until last month, for more than forty years, the court has always had at least eight active judges and as many as twelve. A majority of the Senate agrees that Ms. Halligan is exactly the kind of person who should serve on this court, and I urge Senate Republicans to allow the Senate to express its will and to confirm Ms. Halligan without further delay.
Liberal and progressive also had to jump in and express their displeasure according to BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times. Of course these are the same groups that pushed for filibusters of Republican court nominees when the Republicans held the Senate majority.
Washington's progressive court-watching groups decried the block of what they call a highly qualified nominee for a 11-member court that has four vacancies. Alliance For Justice President Nan Aron said in a statement "urging Republican senators to rise above partisanship is like urging three-pack-a-day smokers to 'just say no' to tobacco."

"The vote today also makes clear that the recent agreement to 'reform' Senate rules really was no agreement at all, but rather a blank check for continued obstruction," Aron said. "We believe the Senate majority needs to reconsider the terms of this agreement, and revisit serious rules reform."

The People For the American Way (sic) said it was a political strategy to keep Republican-appointed judges dominating the court.

"Let's call the filibuster of Halligan what it is: a politically motivated attempt to keep President Obama's nominee off the second highest court in the country," PFAW Vice President Marge Baker. "The court continues to be dominated by far-right Republican-appointed judges who have pushed an extreme right-wing agenda on issues including environmental protection, workers' rights and public health. This is not a coincidence."
What a bunch of whiners. I wouldn't be surprised to see Obama do a recess appointment of Halligan sometime in the future.


  1. Didn't the courts just say that to be a recess appointee the vacancy has to occur while congress is in recess?

  2. That is correct. It has to be a true recess.