(AP) President Barack Obama withdrew his nomination of Caitlin Halligan to a federal appeals court Friday, conceding to Republicans in the Senate who twice blocked his pick for the key judicial post.
Calling the obstruction by Republicans unjustified and unacceptable, Obama said he was pulling Halligan's name from consideration even though he believed she would have served with distinction on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
"I am deeply disappointed that even after nearly two and a half years, a minority of senators continued to block a simple up-or-down vote on her nomination," Obama said in a statement the White House issued while he was traveling in Jordan.
Senate Republicans blocked Halligan's confirmation for a second time in early March, arguing that Halligan is too liberal and citing her work on lawsuits against gun manufacturers and on behalf of illegal immigrants. A majority of senators, 51, supported Halligan's nomination, but Democrats needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to get it past Republican objections.
Democrats have accused the GOP of trying to maintain a conservative majority on a key appellate court.
In a letter Friday to Obama, Halligan said it had been a "tremendous honor" to be nominated and made no reference to the clash with Republicans. "After much reflection, I believe that the time has come for me to respectfully to withdraw my pending nomination from further consideration," she wrote.
The D.C. appeals court is considered one of the most important courts in the country because it handles challenges to most federal rulemaking and oversees federal agencies based in Washington. There are four vacancies on the court, with judges nominated by Republican presidents holding a slim, 4-3 majority.
The White House has not said whom Obama will nominate instead, or what the timeline is for making that decision.
The former solicitor general for New York state, Halligan is general counsel for the New York County District Attorney's Office.