Yesterday Republicans blocked the appointment of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She was originally nominated in 2010, and this is the second time Republicans have blocked her appointment.
The problem? Halligan has an extremely anti-gun track record:
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized Halligan’s attempts to hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with their products in two cases, 2001’s New York v. Sturm, Ruger Co., and 2006’s New York City v. Beretta.
“Those lawsuits are a prime example of how activists on the far left try to use the courts to affect social policy changes that they are unable to achieve through the ballot box,” Grassley said. “That is why I believe those lawsuits represented not only bad policy, but more broadly, an activist approach to the law.” …
While Halligan backers note that she was only following then-New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer’s lead on the two case, Republicans point to a May 2003 speech in which Halligan condemned a federal proposal that eventually made it into law that prevents those type of legal challenges. Grassley said the speech was “troubling.”
The D.C. Circuit serves as an important check on federal power, as it’s tasked with reviewing important rules set by federal agencies. Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt questioned Halligan’s ability to apply the law fairly.
“The D.C. Circuit plays an important role as a check against the Executive Branch by directly reviewing the decisions and rulemakings of many federal agencies,” Blunt said in a statement. “Given Caitlin Halligan’s liberal views and history of activism, I strongly question her ability to apply the law fairly and objectively, and I will once again vote against her nomination.”
But guess who voted for Halligan? North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Here’s the roll call for her vote. Senator Hoeven, it should be noted, voted against. It was a cloture vote, meaning that it was a vote to end debate and allow a vote, so Heitkamp might argue that she was only voting for an up or down vote. Which, of course, would be a cop out.
Senator Heitkamp gets a lot of credit for some circles for her supposedly pro-gun positions, but I don’t think Heitkamp really is pro-gun. “I think we can all count on Heitkamp being a reliable vote for gun control for Democrats, limited only to the degree Heitkamp doesn’t want to be perceived as anti-gun by her North Dakota constituency,” I wrote back in January.
This vote is proof of that concept. Heitkamp may not vote directly for gun control laws, but she’ll sure vote for anti-gun judges to legislative against guns from the bench.