Gun Grabber Denied Seat on DC Federal Appeals Court

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It didn’t garner much media attention, but Second Amendment advocates won a significant victory on Dec. 6 when Republican Senators blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of a former New York state solicitor general to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan failed in a 54-45 vote – six ‘yeas’ short of the 60 required. Republicans opposed Halligan because of her work against gun rights and pro-abortion stances. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the only Republican to vote with Democrats.

Why is it important? The D.C. Circuit Court has jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to decisions made by federal agencies. It is regarded as a pivotal “stepping stone to the Supreme Court.”

The open seat has been vacant since Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2005. Halligan’s nomination has been languishing in the Senate since September 2010.

Halligan is the second Obama court nominee in 2011 to be denied. Goodwin Liu was blocked earlier this year from taking a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco and his nomination was withdrawn.

The Senate has confirmed 24 of Obama’s appeals court nominees and 97 district court nominees. Twenty other proposed judicial nominees remain unconfirmed.

In 2003, Halligan attempted to hold firearms manufacturers and retailers responsible for crimes committed with guns. In 2006, she also filed a brief arguing that handgun manufacturers were guilty of creating a public nuisance.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Gun Owners of America, and NRA all lobbied against Halligan’s confirmation.

“We sent out more than 1 million e-mail alerts to gun owners across the country, warning them of Halligan’s anti-gun philosophy,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said on Dec. 6, “and it is clear from today’s 54-45 Senate vote … that their voices were heard loud and clear.”

“As New York’s solicitor general, Halligan was one of the chief lawyers responsible for New York’s baseless and politically motivated efforts to bankrupt gun manufacturers using frivolous litigation,” the GAO said in a statement. “Certainly, no other manufacturer of another item — whether it be cars, baseball bats, or anything else — would be held liable for the criminal misuse of its product.”

“Given Ms. Halligan’s clear opposition to a major federal law that was essential to protecting law-abiding Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, as well as an important industry that equips our military and law enforcement personnel, we must respectfully oppose her confirmation,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
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