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Senate Obstruction of D.C. Circuit Court Nominee Caitlin Halligan of Great Concern, Says NWLC

Highly qualified nominee would have filled one of the three vacancies and brought much-needed diversity to the bench.

December 06, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) The Senate today filibustered the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The following statement is from Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center:

“The National Women’s Law Center is deeply concerned that a minority of the Senate has blocked Caitlin Halligan, an exceedingly well-qualified appellate lawyer, from serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. By blocking her nomination, the Senate leaves three vacancies on this important court. The caseload per sitting judge on the D.C. Circuit has increased by a third since 2005, when the Senate confirmed President Bush’s nominee to fill the 11th seat, while Caitlin Halligan was nominated for the 9th. With 161 pending cases per sitting judge, and unusually complex ones at that, this court should not be one-quarter understaffed.

“The filibuster also blocked Caitlin Halligan’s becoming only the sixth woman in the history of the D.C. Circuit. Her confirmation would have brought much-needed diversity to the bench. Instead, this obstruction demonstrates a dangerous practice of obstruction that ignores the needs of the American people and undermines our federal courts.

“Caitlin Halligan was first nominated 14 months ago. Her nomination spent over eight months in limbo after being approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her long road to a vote epitomizes the unwarranted delays that excellent nominees have faced because of obstruction by a determined minority of the Senate.

“There are now 80 vacancies on the federal bench and 29 in courts so overworked they have been designated ‘judicial emergencies’ by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Twenty-one nominees remain in limbo. A minority of senators should stop undermining the ability of our federal courts to function effectively and address the urgent need for qualified judges on the federal bench.”