Obama Judicial Nominees May Stir Controversy

President Obama re-nominated 31 federal district and appellate court judges on Thursday who were not confirmed in the Senate by the end of the year, some of whom have been viewed as controversial reports CNN.

Caitlin Halligan, who was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is one such individual. She was nominated in 2011, but was blocked during a vote by Senate Republicans that December, says CNN.

“Today, I am re-nominating thirty-three highly qualified candidates for the federal bench, including many who could have and should have been confirmed before the Senate adjourned,” President Obama said in a statement (see Gavel Grab). (Two of the re-nominations were for positions on the Court of International Trade.)

When Halligan’s nomination was blocked in 2011, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Halligan’s positions on gun rights, detainee rights and immigration. He declared she met the “extraordinary circumstances” standard to filibuster her nomination.

The National Rifle Association staunchly opposed Halligan’s initial nomination in 2011. In a New York Times opinion, Linda Greenhouse explains that Halligan represented the state of New York in a lawsuit against gun manufacturers, drawing opposition from the NRA.

Democrats declared Halligan a “superbly qualified nominee,” but her renomination in 2012 languished, says CNN.

Other nominees if confirmed would bring diversity to the federal bench.

Sri Srinivasan was renominated for the D.C. Circuit Court and would be the first Asian-American on that bench. Judge Michael McShane renominated for a federal district court in Oregon would be the first openly gay federal judge in that state, notes the Statesman Journal.


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