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Now the NRA can block judicial appointments?

While Sen. Rand Paul was filibustering last week over drones, his Republican colleagues were engaged in stalling tactics of another sort, designed to prevent federal judicial nominees from ever taking their seats on the bench.

In this New Yorker piece today, Jeffrey Toobin explains why judicial appointments are becoming “one of the great missed opportunities of the Obama Presidency.”

Case in point: Caitlin Halligan, Obama’s nominee for the  D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — considered the second most important court in the nation:

A majority of the Senate voted to bring up the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but forty-one Republican Senators voted to prevent her from receiving consideration. This is the modern version of the filibuster, far more common than Paul’s thirteen-hour speech. Without sixty votes, it’s now virtually impossible to accomplish anything in the contemporary United States Senate.

This was the second time that Halligan received majority support, but, because she never passed the threshold of sixty, her nomination now appears doomed. And so, in the fifth year of his Presidency, Obama has failed to place even a single judge on the D.C. Circuit. . . [which] now has four vacancies out of eleven seats.

Halligan is widely viewed by attorneys on both sides of the aisle as impeccably qualified to sit on the bench.  So what’s the problem? It turns out that while working in the New York Attorney General’s office Halligan wrote a brief supporting the efforts of her boss, Andrew Cuomo, “to make gun manufacturers legally responsible for some of the violence in New York, a position that the National Rifle Association opposed. The N.R.A. punished Halligan for doing her job for New York, and the Senate Republicans followed.”

6 Comments


  1. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    No, the NRA can’t block judicial appointments. But 41 Senators who want to keep their jobs can.

  2. Sharon McCloskey

    March 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    That was the point.

  3. Doug

    March 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    guess they can start running with the NAACP, ACLU et. al.

  4. HunterC

    March 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Harry Reid and the “Democrats” had yet another chance to reform or bust the filibuster 2 months ago.

    They didn’t.

    I have no sympathy left for “Democrats” who refuse to act like the majority when they win an election.

    That includes having ZERO sympathy for the withdrawal of Elissa Cadish this week to be a federal judge in Harry Reid’s home state.

    If “Democrats” won’t use the power we give them, why waste time giving them any power?

    Kay Hagan, I’m looking at you.

  5. Doug

    March 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Hunter, this is true. They would even get a free pass from the media while doing so. Too bad the media crucifies the Republicans in the house every time they use their power.

  6. Jack

    March 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Better children die by the gun then Senators lose their jobs.

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