Senator Patrick Leahy expressed great disappointment Wednesday after Republicans blocked the nomination of Caitlin Halligan, a highly qualified judicial nominee, to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Leahy noted that Senate Republicans previous statements about working together on judicial nominations in order to fix a broken system were nothing more than empty pledges. "Republican Senators who were part of the Gang of 14 just a few years ago, others who said they would never filibuster a judicial nominee, those who said that they would only filibuster in extraordinary circumstances, and all those who insisted on pushing through President Bush's most extreme ideological nominees have now all reversed themselves to the detriment of the courts and the country," Leahy said.
"Rather than debate the merits of her nomination and whether she has the legal ability, judgment, character, ethics, and temperament to serve on the court, Senate Republicans resorted to smearing her distinguished record of service and continued to raise a disingenuous argument about the D.C. Circuit's caseload not being sufficiently heavy to justify another judge on the court," Leahy said of Halligan's nomination.
He concluded: "They have not been fair to this fine woman. I thank Senator Murkowski for remaining true to her principles and who distinguishes herself by doing so."
Leahy noted that Senate Republicans have set a new and unreasonable standard for President Barack Obama's nominees not applied to judicial nominees under the previous administration. By voting to block even floor debate of Halligan's nomination today, Republicans have publicly vowed not to work to address the judicial vacancy crisis that plagues courts throughout the country. The D.C. Circuit is one-third vacant, and Halligan's nomination would have filled a seat left open since 2006 when Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed to the Supreme Court.