Caitlin Halligan was confirmed Wednesday by the New York state Senate to become an associate judge on the state's highest court in a 47-12 vote.
Halligan, a former solicitor general and currently an attorney in private practice, will take the spot on the bench vacated by Rowan Wilson, who was elected chief judge of the state Court of Appeals a day earlier.
"I am confident that Caitlin Halligan will be a phenomenal addition to our state's highest court, helping the New York State Court of Appeals once again become one of our country's leading examples of thoughtful, high-quality jurisprudence," said Gov. Kathy Hochul, who nominated Halligan earlier this month.
Her nomination and confirmation was also praised by the state's legal community after months of uncertainty hanging over the court following the resignation of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in August and the rejection of Hochul's first nominee, Hector LaSalle, by Democrats in the state Senate.
“Caitlin Halligan is a gifted attorney with a tremendous breadth and depth of high-level litigation experience," said Sherry Levin Wallach, the president of the New York State Bar Association. "Her ability to analyze issues and come up with creative solutions will be a tremendous asset for the state Court of Appeals."
Republicans had raised the possibility of a potential legal challenge to Halligan's nomination after Hochul approved a measure that helped expedite the nomination process to put her on the bench in order to replace Wilson and have a full court.
But for now, no lawsuit has materialized. Still, Republican lawmakers have criticized the process.
"Filling vacancies on the Court of Appeals is a serious endeavor," said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay. "Democrats have used it as an opportunity to approve judges based on a political litmus test rather than qualifications and merit. They advanced a questionable new law and are poised to throw out another in an obvious attempt to make an independent process more political."