Top Five Things to Know About Judicial Nominee Caitlin Halligan

By Robyn Hagan Cain on November 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Here at FindLaw, we understand the pressures of being a legal professional - most of us are recovering lawyers - so we want to help by tossing you that preferred life preserver of the legal profession, the short list.

Today's offering: Top five things to know about D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan.

  1. Bio Basics. Caitlin Halligan graduated from Princeton (AB, '88), and Georgetown (JD, '95). She has clerked for D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patricia M. Wald and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and worked both in the private sector, (most recently as a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges), and the public sector, (New York Solicitor General and General Counsel to the New York District Attorney's Office). Halligan also has the requisite teaching experience to satisfy our nomination theory. (Nomination = Clerkship + Private Practice + Public Sector + Academia.)
  2. The Chief's Seat. If confirmed, Halligan will fill Chief Justice John Roberts' former seat on the D.C. Circuit.
  3. Survivor. Halligan has endured the second-longest nomination term among the current nominees for federal Circuit Court of Appeals seats. Halligan was originally nominated on September 29, 2010. Obama tapped Seventh Circuit nominee Victoria Nourse on July 14, 2010. Goodwin Liu, now an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, and Edward DuMont, still a big-shot at WilmerHale, were also among the year-plus nominees that waited from 2010 to 2011 for confirmation; both have since withdrawn their nominations.
  4. Polarizing? Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about Halligan. The Constitutional Accountability Center praised her nomination, noting "By any measure, Ms. Halligan is extraordinarily well-qualified" for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Republican Policy Committee, by contrast, has referred to Halligan as an "injudicious choice" who fails to meet the "unbiased umpires" standard required of federal judges.
  5. Win Some, Lose Some. Halligan has argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She has won two and lost two. The Supreme Court dismissed the fifth case, Tolentino v. New York, after deciding that it had improvidently granted the writ of certiorari.

In late October, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated that he would soon push for a floor vote on Halligan's nomination.

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