Aug 9 (Reuters) - For the second time in less than a year,
U.S. Senate Republicans have blocked the nomination of Caitlin
Halligan for a spot on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of
The Senate on Tuesday voted to adjourn for a month-long
summer recess without agreeing to preserve the nomination of
Halligan, who serves as general counsel for the Manhattan
District Attorney's office.
A White House official said President Barack Obama would
nominate Halligan for a third time in September, when the Senate
The Senate's move came about eight months after Senate
Republicans used a procedural maneuver to defeat Halligan's
first nomination. Only one Republican -- Lisa Murkowski of
Alaska -- voted in Halligan's favor.
When Obama renominated Halligan in June, he said in a
statement that he was "disappointed" and urged the Senate to
reconsider, "especially given her broad bipartisan support from
the legal and law enforcement communities."
A spokeswoman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman
Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, confirmed on Thursday
the Republican opposition to Halligan's nomination but declined
A spokeswoman for Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top
Republican on the committee, did not respond to a request for
There currently are three vacancies on the 11-member
District of Columbia Circuit.
Halligan has been supported by left-leaning groups such as
the National Women's Law Center, which is advocating for more
women on the bench, and opposed by conservative groups such as
the National Rifle Association and anti-abortion organizations.
In a letter sent to members of the Judiciary Committee last
year, Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA's Institute
for Legislative Action, said the group opposed Halligan's
nomination because of her attempts to "undermine" a 2005 federal law that prevents gun manufacturers and dealers from being held
liable for crimes committed with their merchandise.
Cox also cited a 2001 lawsuit in which New York State argued
that the legal sale of handguns created a "public nuisance"
under state law. Halligan, who was then the state's solicitor
general, handled the case.
The Republican National Lawyers Association also has come
out against Halligan's nomination. In Senate testimony, the
association says, she wasn't candid about her views on the
Constitution as a "living document."
After a five-year stint as solicitor general, Halligan in
2007 joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where she served as head of
the firm's appellate practice until she took her current post in
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance
declined to comment.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax, Carlyn Kolker and Dan Wiessner)
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