December 5, 2011

The Nov. 23 editorial “Time to pass judgment” argued that the Senate should confirm Caitlin J. Halligan to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. I fully agree.  Ms. Halligan has excellent qualifications and appears to be an extremely bright and capable judicial candidate. It seems, however, that Senate Republicans have one major problem with Ms. Halligan: She looks too much like a future Supreme Court nominee. That is the same problem Senate Democrats had with Miguel A. Estrada when they blocked his appointment to the D.C. Circuit. 

The Halligan and Estrada nominations are just two examples of the petty and unnecessary charade that is the current Senate judicial confirmation process. Though this problem is decades old, perhaps President Obama could make a bold effort at bilateral disarmament and prove his bipartisan bona fides at the same time.

Assuming Ms. Halligan is confirmed, the D.C. Circuit will still have two open seats, to which Obama should nominate Mr. Estrada and Goodwin Liu.  Both Mr. Estrada (a Bush nominee) and Mr. Liu (an Obama nominee) are brilliant lawyers, and both were blocked by tit-for-tat Senate politics.  Such a move by Mr. Obama could soften the gridlock that has plagued judicial nominations for so many years. 

Jeff Luoma, North Bethesda

In addition to all of the reasons that The Post’s editorial cited in urging that the Senate confirm Caitlin J. Halligan, one other important factor is that this outstanding nominee would be only the sixth female judge in the 118-year history of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, thus adding to the court’s diversity.   

Eight months is far too long to deprive the D.C. Circuit of a nominee of Ms. Halligan’s talents; the Senate should vote Tuesday to cut off debate on her nomination and vote immediately afterward to confirm her.  

Marcia D. Greenberger, Washington

The writer is co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.

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