Are there more where that Republican scalp came from?

On Thursday, Michigan court of appeals judge Henry Saad withdrew his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Saad was one of the nominees left stranded by the gang of 14 deal.

It was always understood that the deal might produce some “casualties” — Lindsey Graham said so at the time. Indeed, no president is likely to get every judicial nominee approved, even when his party controls the Senate. However, there doesn’t appear to be any good reason why Saad’s nomination should have failed. He was blocked by the two Democratic Senators from his home state. The disapproval of leftists Carl Levin and Debbie Stabanow doesn’t strike me as sufficient reason for Republicans to sell out a qualified nominee.

Several excellent nominees are still dangling as a result of the gang of 14 deal. They include two superb lawyers who have done yeonman’s work for the Bush administration on perhaps its two most important legal fronts. Brett Kavanaugh has been instrumental in helping the administration select and confirm conservative judicial nominees. And Jim Haynes has performed the even more thankless task of serving as the chief legal officer at the Pentagon. In the process, he has been subjected to much undeserved criticism regarding U.S. policy for interrogating detainees (including a recent hit piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, about which more, I hope, later).

If these two outstanding nominees join Saad as casualties of the gang of 14 deal, then the deal should be adjudged a failure. In that event, conservatives should hold gang members like John McCain and Lindsey Graham accountable.


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