Obama Judicial Nominee Opposed Gun Makers and Pro-Life Demonstrators

January 3, 2013 - 6:11 PM

caitlin halligan

Caitlin Halligan, re-nominated to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President Barack Obama. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama re-nominated former New York State Solicitor General Caitlin Halligan to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after her nomination had been blocked for more than a year in the face of conservatives criticism over her anti-gun views and her legal argument that pro-life protesters were guilty of extortion.

Obama on Thursday announced he was making 33 re-nominations for federal judgeships, including six other appeals court nominees.

“Today, I am re-nominating thirty-three highly qualified candidates for the federal bench, including many who could have and should have been confirmed before the Senate adjourned,” Obama said in a statement.

Several have been awaiting a vote for more than six months, even though they all enjoy bipartisan support," he said.  "I continue to be grateful for their willingness to serve and remain confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity.  I urge the Senate to consider and confirm these nominees without delay, so all Americans can have equal and timely access to justice.”

The National Rifle Association opposed the Halligan nomination in a Dec. 5, 2011 letter to senators. The organization cited her representing New York state in a lawsuit against gun manufacturers in 2001, and her opposition to a federal law passed in 2005 to block lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

“Our opposition is based on Ms. Halligan’s attacks on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. Specifically, she worked to undermine the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support,” said the letter to senators signed by NRA Executive Director Chris Cox.

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President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

“This legislation was critically important in ending a wave of lawsuits sponsored by anti-gun organizations and governments, which sought to blame firearms manufacturers and dealers for the criminal misuse of their products by third parties,” said the NRA letter. “This bill was an essential protection both for the Second Amendment rights of honest Americans and for the continued existence of the domestic firearms industry as a supplier of arms for our nation’s defense.”

The letter continued, “Among the governments that sued the industry was the state of New York. This case was pending while Ms. Halligan was New York’s solicitor general, and she strongly supported the litigation both inside and outside the courtroom.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed opposition to Halligan because of briefs she filed in other court cases, in particular the case of Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, in which NOW wanted to use the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act against pro-life protestors on the grounds that it interrupted with commerce. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case in 2006.

“She filed amicus briefs that consistently took activist positions on controversial issues such as abortion, affirmative action, immigration, and federalism,” Grassley said in a statement before giving examples.

“In Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, she supported NOW's claim that Pro-Life protestors had engaged in extortion. Ms. Halligan's position was rejected by the Supreme Court 8 to 1,” Grassley said. “That was not a mainstream position by her.”

“In the affirmative action cases of Grutter and Gratz, she argued that the use of race in college and law school admissions was not only appropriate, but constitutional,” Grassley continued. “In Hoffman Plastics v. NLRB, she argued that the National Labor Relations Board should have the authority to grant back-pay to illegal aliens, even though federal law prohibits illegal aliens from working in the United States. These are not mainstream positions.”