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Fifth Circuit Nominee Stephen Higginson Waits for Senate Vote

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 04, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals may have to continue waiting for the Senate to confirm Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Higginson’s nomination to the bench due to delays in a D.C. Circuit nominee’s confirmation process.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Higginson’s nomination on July 14, but Caitlin Halligan, a nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is ahead of Higginson in the vote queue. The Senate, however, could agree to hear Higginson’s nomination first; Halligan is expected to encounter Republican opposition, whereas Higginson has enthusiastic bi-partisan support from Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, reports The Times-Picayune.

President Obama nominated Higginson in May to succeed Judge Jacques Wiener, who is retiring. Higginson, a Boston native, attended Harvard (AB, '83), Cambridge (MPhil, '84), and Yale (JD, '87), before clerking for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. He has been an Assistant United States Attorney since 1989, when he joined the Criminal Division in the District of Massachusetts. Since 1993, Higginson has served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana, where he became the chief of appeals in 1995.

In 2004, Higginson joined the faculty at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, and transitioned to working part-time in the United States Attorney's Office, where he continues to supervise the appellate section. If confirmed, Higginson will fill the only vacancy on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Higginson and Halligan are not the only nominees waiting for confirmation to one of the circuit courts. There are 19 judicial vacancies on the circuit benches. President Obama has named 13 nominees to fill those seats.

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