On Monday, the pro-Second Amendment group Gun Owners of America claimed that several U.S. Senators told them that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is “twisting arms to get support for one of the most anti-gun judicial nominees in recent memory.”
That nominee is Caitlin Halligan, New York’s former Solicitor General, who President Barack Obama nominated to serve on the D.C. Court of Appeals. A Senate GOP aide previously told Breitbart News that Halligan is the “most anti-Second Amendment nominee” Obama has ever put forward.
In a letter to supporters on Monday, Gun Owners of America indicated their agreement with that Senate GOP aide’s assessment. “As New York’s Solicitor General, Halligan was one of the chief lawyers responsible for New York’s baseless and politically motivated efforts to bankrupt gun manufacturers using frivolous litigation,” the group wrote. “In so doing, Halligan proved that she places liberal political activism above fealty to the law.”
“Halligan’s public hatred for firearms was only matched by her zealotry inside the courtroom,” Gun Owners of America added. “In a speech on May 5, 2003, Halligan called for ‘handgun manufacturers [to be held] liable for criminal acts committed with handguns.'”
Senate Republicans successfully filibustered Halligan’s nomination for the same position in late 2011, but Obama has nominated her again two times since, to no avail thus far. The first re-nomination timed out at the end of 2012 when the 112th Congress ended, so Obama brought her back up in early 2013.
When asked about that May 2003 speech’s content during her first nomination confirmation attempt and whether there was any basis in the law for holding firearms manufacturers liable for crimes, she deflected the question.
“At the time [I gave the speech], the Attorney General [of New York Eliot Spitzer] was pursuing a common law action against a number of gun manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers,” Halligan responded in writing to Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
That lawsuit was dismissed on legal grounds by a New York State intermediate appellate court. In light of the New York state court’s decision, there is no basis in New York law for holding firearm manufactures liable for crimes in which a handgun is used. I am not familiar with the laws of any other state or federal law, and have no basis for an opinion regarding any such claims that might be brought in other jurisdictions.
Gun Owners of America thinks it is absurd that Halligan would hold such a radical belief. “Certainly, no other manufacturer of another item — whether it be cars, baseball bats, or anything else — would be held liable for the criminal misuse of its product,” the group said. “And, as Halligan well knows, the application of that principle to firearms would surely eliminate the manufacture of firearms in America.”
“Halligan’s failure to provide information that would clarify her statements, thus keeping her testimony from being misleading, constitutes ‘fraud’ against the Senate,” Gun Owners of America added. “As such, the only role she should play in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is the role of a defendant.”
A spokesman for Reid did not immediately return a request for comment.