President accepts with 'deep disappointment' Caitlin Halligan's decision to withdraw as nominee for US court of appeals in DC
One of the longest-running standoffs in the partisan battle between the White House and Congress came to an end on Friday when a lawyer caught in the middle finally bowed out.
Caitlin Halligan, a prominent New York attorney, was nominated by Barack Obama for the US court of appeals in Washington DC in September 2010. But her nomination was repeatedly blocked by Republican filibusters.
Some Republicans were opposed to her involvement in an legal action to make gun manufacturers legally responsible for criminal acts in which their products were used.
Halligan wrote to Obama requesting that she no longer be considered as a nominee for the US court of appeals in DC. The White House issued a statement on behalf of the president accepting this.
Obama complained earlier this year about a "Republican pattern of obstructionism". About 18 of his judicial nominations are still awaiting a vote.
The president complained that the Senate was taking three times as long to deal with his nominees compared with George W Bush's.
"Today, I accepted Caitlin Halligan's request to withdraw as a nominee for the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit," Obama said in a statement. " 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.
"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."
He added: "The DC circuit is considered the nation's second-highest court, but it now has more vacancies than any other circuit court. This is unacceptable. I remain committed to filling these vacancies, to ensure equal and timely access to justice for all Americans."
The initial blocking of Halligan came at a time when the Republicans were simply gumming up the works in Congress. But since then she has become a target, with Republicans expressing opposition because she had acted on behalf of liberal causes, in particular on gun reform.
The Democratic leader in the Senate Harry Reid made another push to force a vote in the chamber earlier this month but fell short of the necessary votes.
In her letter to Obama, Halligan wrote: "After much reflection, I believe that the time has come for me to respectfully ask that you withdraw my pending nomination from further consideration by the United States Senate."
The Democratic chairman of the Senate judiciary committee Patrick Leahy earlier blamed Republicans for blocking someone he said would have made a good judge. He described as "fictitious" the Republican claim that they were acting because of her advocacy for gun reform.
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[Photo of President Barack Obama pictured above via AFP]