Senate Republicans once again made clear Thursday that there is serious opposition to Caitlin Halligan becoming a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
When the Senate adjourns for more than 30 days, all nominations are returned to the White House unless all Senators agree in a resolution to hold them. While all of President Barack Obama's other judicial nominations were held by the Senate on Thursday before the summer recess, at least one Republican senator refused to agree to keep Halligan’s nomination active.
Democrats ended up agreeing to a resolution that would have sent Halligan's nomination back to the White House, which would end her judicial bid. Republicans used the same type of block to end the nominations of Halligan and five other judicial nominees in December. Obama ultimately nominated Halligan again in June and she started the confirmation process again.
But Halligan, the general counsel of the Manhattan district attorney's office, remains a nominee for now because of a procedural quirk, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. The House did not approve the Senate adjournment bill Thursday, so the Senate is not technically recessing, he said. Halligan couldn't be reached for comment.
Last year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) criticized Halligan during a confirmation hearing and questioned whether the D.C. Circuit caseload supports adding another judge. Gun rights advocates said they are opposed to Halligan. As New York state's solicitor general, Halligan sued gun manufacturers as public nuisances.
Halligan served as solicitor general of New York State from 2001 to 2006, where she oversaw a staff of about 50 attorneys. In 2007, she joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where she served as head of the firm’s appellate practice until she took her current post in 2010.
"I remain deeply disappointed that a minority of the United States Senate blocked Ms. Halligan's nomination last year and urge her reconsideration, especially given her broad bipartisan support from the legal and law enforcement communities," Obama said in the statement in June.
Also on Thursday, the Senate also confirmed District of Columbia Superior Court Magistrate Judge Kimberly Knowles for a judge spot as an associate judge.
Knowles has been a magistrate judge in Superior Court since 2010, presiding over cases in the domestic violence branch and the criminal division. Before joining the bench, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in the District, and served as deputy chief of the office's sex offense and domestic violence section from 2004 until she joined the court.