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What real post-partisanship would look like

Quin Hillyer proposes that, in the spirit of bipartisanship, Barack Obama renominate Peter Keisler, the former acting Attorney General, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Keisler was an outstanding nominee, praised by the likes of Ted Kennedy and the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Moreover, as Hillyer, points out, “when the Inspector General issued a report blasting the politicization of the Bush Justice Department, the report repeatedly praised Keisler for resisting the politicization.” And Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, who was just selected by Obama for the position of Solicitor General, signed a letter supporting the nomination of Keisler to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (the court President Bush iniitally nominated Keisler for).

If Obama were to renominate Keisler, he would be following honorable precedent. George Bush renominated Roger Gregory, initially tapped by President Clinton, for the Fourth Circuit. Later, he nominated Helene White, another Clinton nominee, to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals even though a Republican Senate had not confirmed her.

Renominating Keisler would take Obama’s professed post-partisanship beyond the level of mere gesture. It would be different in magnitude than selecting someone to say a prayer at the inauguration or putting a Republican or two in the cabinet. As a federal appellate judge, Keisler would (like Roger Gregory and Helene White) make important decisions with complete independence from the president.

For precisely this reason, I doubt that Obama will renominate Keisler.

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