The White House withdrew the nomination of Caitlin Halligan for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday, ending a nomination process that lasted more than two years because of constant opposition from Republican senators.
President Barack Obama seemed determined to fight for Halligan's nomination after Republicans blocked her confirmation vote March 6. But she wrote a brief letter to Obama on Friday thanking him for his "steadfast support" but asking him to withdraw her name.
"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," Obama said in a statement. "This unjustified filibuster obstructed the majority of Senators from expressing their support."
Obama said he remains committed to filling the vacancies on the 11-member D.C. Circuit, a court in which he did not have a judge confirmed during his first term. There are now four vacancies.
The president's second term is not starting off any smoother when it comes to the D.C. Circuit. Republicans already are holding up the nomination of Sri Srinivasan for a seat on the panel, saying they want to know more about his role in the settlement of a Fair Housing Act case a year ago. The White House nominated Srinivasan in June. He still has not had a committee hearing.
With Halligan, Senate Republicans routinely went out of their way to single out her nomination. They previously had blocked her nomination in December 2011, and they have repeatedly used Senate rules to send her nomination back to the White House, singling her out from other nominees to do so. Each time, the White House has renominated Halligan, who was first nominated in 2010.
On March 6, the Senate again rejected her nomination. Republican speeches called her "an activist judge" and questioned her views on gun rights, abortion and the war on terror. "It is time for the President and Senate Democrats to accept the fact that this nomination is not going to be confirmed by the Senate," Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on the Senate floor before the vote. "We need to move on."
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Friday that Halligan would have been an outstanding judge. "It is a shame that narrow, special interests hold such influence that Senate Republicans for two years blocked an up-or-down vote on her confirmation," Leahy said in a statement.
Halligan officially denied comment through the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, where she is the general counsel.