Updated 3:13 p.m.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two more circuit court judges and a slate of district court judges on Thursday, including Caitlin Halligan, a long-controversial nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The committee approved Halligan, the general counsel of the Manhattan district attorney's office, on a 10-7 party-line vote (the initial vote was 10-8, but Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) later changed his vote to "pass"). Halligan still needs a confirmation vote from the full Senate, something Republicans have blocked before.
Halligan’s nomination has drawn the most fire from Republicans, who have used Senate recess rules to repeatedly return her nomination to the White House in the past two years. Republicans did not comment during Thursday’s vote about why they voted against Halligan, but she has faced opposition from gun rights advocates in the past.
After the vote, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Halligan and the other judicial nominees "deserve immediate consideration" by the full Senate and that a delay is needless and unacceptable.
“Ms. Halligan has the experience, integrity, and judgment to serve with distinction on this court, which now stands more than a third vacant," Carney said. "Her broad bipartisan support from the legal and law enforcement communities should lead to swift confirmation."
President Barack Obama re-re-re-nominated her in January. In 2011, Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, criticized Halligan during a confirmation hearing and questioned whether the D.C. Circuit caseload supports adding another judge.
Gun rights advocates have said they oppose Halligan because as New York state's solicitor general she sued gun manufacturers as public nuisances. Halligan served as solicitor general from 2001 to 2006. 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.
The 11-judge D.C. Circuit has four vacancies for Obama to try to fill during his second term.
In other action, the committee voted 11-7 along party lines (except for Graham's yes vote) to approve Patty Shwartz of New Jersey for the U.S. Circuit Court for the Third Circuit. It approved on a voice vote Ketanji Jackson for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the following district court nominees:
Pamela Chen for the Eastern District of New York; Katherine Failla for the Southern District of New York; Andrew Gordon for the District of Nevada; Raymond Moore for the District of Colorado; Troy Nunley for the Eastern District of California; Beverly O'Connell for the Central District of California; Analisa Torres for the Southern District of New York; and Derrick Watson for the District of Hawaii.