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Sens. Cruz, Cornyn Continue Needless Obstruction of Federal Courts Halligan would have been only the 6th woman in 119 years on D.C. Circuit Court
March 6, 2013

(TEXAS) – The U.S. Senate failed to reach enough votes to achieve cloture for Caitlin Halligan, a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – widely considered the second most important court in the country, after the Supreme Court. Texas Senators each voted against Halligan, leaving the court with four vacancies.

Matt Glazer, Executive Director of Progress Texas, released the following statement:

"We are ashamed that Texas' Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz stopped what would have been the 6th woman in 119 years to sit on the D.C. Circuit Court. Our Texas Senators had the opportunity to put a qualified candidate and a talented legal mind on the second most powerful court in the country.

Their obstructionism is unparalleled and because of that, there will continue to be four vacancies in this court. Worse than that, of all the current sitting judges on this powerful bench, there will continue to be 11 men and only 3 women.  

It is time to end the obstructionism. It is time for the political games to stop. Most importantly, it is time our courts start looking more like America and less like a Republican Primary."


Background on Halligan & the D.C. Circuit Court

The D.C. Circuit has sole responsibility for deciding cases having to do with the balance of powers of the branches of government and decisions made by government agencies affecting issues like health care, national security, environmental rules, and consumer protections and workplace safety. More U.S. Supreme Court justices have come from the D.C. Circuit than any other circuit court, including four current Justices.

Halligan was first nominated in 2010 and brings a wealth of experience to a court that is facing a troubling number of vacancies. She has devoted her career to public service, currently serving as General Counsel of the Manhattan District Attorney. Halligan would have been only the sixth woman to serve on the D.C. Circuit in 119 years. The court impacts all Americans because it hears cases on the balance of powers of the branches of government, as well as decisions made by government agencies affecting issues like health care, national security, environmental rules, consumer protections, and workplace safety.

How Senators John Cornyn & Ted Cruz Could Make a Difference

Across the country, there are 89 judicial vacancies and additional 19 on the horizon.  Texas’ federal district courts have 6 judicial vacancies – including one that has been vacant since November 2008. Yet, there are currently no nominations to fill those Texas court seats, an obligation that rests with Texas’ U.S. Senators – each of whom sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees the judicial nomination process.

Since 1986, Texas U.S. senators have used a federal judicial evaluation committee to vet applicants for vacancies on the state's federal courts. The committee reviews applicants' resumes, conducts interviews, and forwards the names of highly qualified candidates to the senators, who then recommend a candidate to the president. Over the years, the size of the committee has ranged from 28 to 40 members who are appointed by the senators, with members responsible for vacancies in the federal district in which they reside. The committee currently consists of 31 members and includes several Democrats.

Texas’ judicial nomination process is currently run and supervised by Sen. Cornyn, who also serves as the Republican Whip, and Sen. Ted Cruz. Both members also sit on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviews all judicial appointments.