Republicans block Obama appellate court nominee

December 6, 2011 - 1:40 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have blocked President Barack Obama's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, as majority Democrats failed to break a filibuster.

Republicans portrayed Caitlin Halligan as a liberal activist, but also acknowledged that the filibuster was payback for Democrats opposing past GOP nominees. Democrats said she was exceptionally well qualified.

The vote Tuesday to break a filibuster was 54-45, short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules.

Halligan is currently general counsel in the New York City district attorney's office and is a former New York State solicitor general.

The District of Columbia circuit currently has five judges nominated by Republicans and three nominated by Democrats, with three vacancies. Halligan was nominated for the seat once held by Chief Justice John Roberts.