The lawyer, Caitlin Halligan, currently serves as general counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in New York. Tapped by the President to sit as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, many see her potential nomination as a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ms. Halligan's nomination had been previously opposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who argued that Ms. Halligan would be an activist judge who would use the court to advance a social agenda.
The President greeted the 113th Congress on Thursday by renominating the judicial candidates who had not been confirmed in the last Congress. Judge vacancies on the federal bench during the President's first term had skyrocketed due largely to Congressional obstruction and resistance. Eighty-three judicial seats had been empty, and the filling of thirty-three of those seats had been considered judicial emergencies.
President Obama is recognized to have achieved several "firsts" for the federal bench, including the first openly gay male judget, the first to nominate judges of Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese descent, the first to have a Latina confirmed to the Supreme Court, as well as the first Supreme Court judge with a disability.
Barack Obama's nominees are likely to meet stiff resistance in Republicans in Congress, who have been criticized for delaying floor votes on many nominees. The President, however, has also been criticized for not moving quickly to fill federal bench vacancies.
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