White House withdraws court nominee who was blocked twice by GOP

President Obama on Friday withdrew his nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia after the New York lawyer was twice filibustered by Republicans in the Senate.

"I am deeply disappointed that even after nearly two and a half years, a minority of senators continued to block a simple up-or-down vote on her nomination," Obama said in a statement.

"This unjustified filibuster obstructed the majority of Senators from expressing their support. I am confident that with Caitlin’s impressive qualifications and reputation, she would have served with distinction."

Halligan requested that her nomination be withdrawn, according to the White House.

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Had Halligan been confirmed, she would have taken the spot on the bench that had been held by John Roberts before he became chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The Senate failed to advance Halligan's nomination in a 51-41 vote last month, falling well short of the 60-vote threshold necessary to cut off debate. Last year, Halligan's nomination was also filibustered in a 54-45 party line vote.

Republican opposition to Halligan focused primarily around her work as solicitor general of New York State, where she aggressively pursued cases against gun manufacturers. 

In a floor speech earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that her appointment would be "a bridge too far."

"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," McConnell said.

Republicans also criticized Halligan's views on abortion and terrorist detention as "extreme."

Earlier this month, Obama lamented the "pattern of obstruction" by Republicans relative to Halligan and his judicial nominees.

"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 in a statement. "Ms. Halligan has always practiced law with the highest ethical ideals, and her qualifications are beyond question."

Obama said the GOP tactic of not allowing up-or-down votes on judicial nominees was overburdening the nation's courts.

"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," Obama said. "Until last month, for more than forty years, the court has always had at least eight active judges and as many as twelve."

On Friday, Obama said he remained "committed to filling these vacancies, to ensure equal and timely access to justice for all Americans."

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