The Senate just voted 51-41 to end the Senate Republicans’ filibuster of Caitlin Halligan to the second highest court in the country, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit — which in the bizarro world that is the Senate means that Halligan’s nomination will not move forward. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) switched his vote to “no” for procedural reasons, but he supports the nomination.
There are many reasons why Halligan should be a judge. She is among the best attorneys in the country. The court she was nominated to now has four vacancies, and thus will experience an increasingly crushing workload without new judges. Additionally, the DC Circuit’s current conservative majority includes some of the worst judges in the country. Two DC Circuit judges recently joined an opinion claiming that all business, labor or Wall Street regulation is constitutional suspect. Halligan’s confirmation would have diluted those judges’ votes, which is an important goal in and of itself.
There is, however, also a very bad reason to keep Halligan off the bench. As Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the highest ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently claimed, Halligan’s “got gun problems.”
Of course, her so-called “gun problem” is that she once argued a position that the NRA disagrees with when she was Solicitor General of the state of New York. And the idea that she should be blocked for the positions she argued as a government attorney is completely absurd. By that logic, Republicans should also block Republican superlawyer Paul Clement because he is too friendly to Obamacare.
But the NRA is not a logical organization — their CEO recently claimed that we all need to arm ourselves to defend against violent Latinos and the collapse of civilization. So it’s not surprising that they would take an unreasonable position on Halligan. Nevertheless, it is deeply unfortunate that 40 senators are still following the lead of this fringe organization.