Senate Republicans reject Xenia-born judge nominated by Obama for court seat

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and 39 other Republicans voted Wednesday to block the nomination of Xenia-born Caitlin Halligan to a seat on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

It was the second time in three years that Senate Republicans have used a parliamentary device known as a filibuster to prevent a floor vote on her nomination. She is supported by a majority of senators, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

The final vote was 51-41, meaning Democrats fell nine votes short of ending the Republican filibuster. Because eight senators did not vote on a morning when Washington has been hit by a snow storm, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated he would try one more time to win Halligan a floor vote.

Born in Xenia in 1966, Halligan is a graduate of Princeton University and earned a law degree from Georgetown University. She lives in New York City and is a former solicitor general in New York.

Halligan has provoked intense opposition from social conservatives such as the Family Research Council, which said after the vote that her “extreme positions on gun rights, terrorism, marriage and abortion helped to unite a coalition of conservatives and moderates into blocking the nominee.’’

Caitlin Dunn, a spokeswoman for Portman, said that “Halligan has demonstrated an activist judicial philosophy over the course of her career. Since there is little to suggest she will not do so from the bench, Senator Portman has serious concerns moving forward with her nomination, just as he did when the Senate voted against her in 2011.’’

“The Senate has voted to confirm 98.9 percent of the judicial nominees brought to the floor during the Obama Administration,’’ Dunn said. ”It’s unfortunate that the Administration decided to dismiss the will of the Senate in this case instead of putting forward someone who could pass.”

In a conference call with Ohio reporters, Brown complained that Republicans have “done this slow walk on Ohio judges. I’ve never seen this kind of theater … And we’ve not seen this kind of digging in against judges who are not unqualified.’’

“These are qualified judges,’’ Brown said. “We also see huge numbers of vacancies’’ on the federal bench. For whatever partisan reasons, this has not gotten any better. It’s a sad commentary on the Senate and the people that are blocking these nominations.’’

President Barack Obama said he was “deeply disappointed’’ that Senate Republicans blocked Halligan’s nomination, adding that “nearly two and a half years after being nominated, Ms. Halligan continues to wait for a simple up-or-down vote.’’

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