A vote that shouldn’t be ducked

The Hill speculates, as I have, that Lindsey Graham is blocking the nomination of Jim Haynes to the Fourth Circuit, and that Graham’s good friend John McCain may also be involved. The notion is that McCain, who opposes Haynes because as General Counsel of Defense Department Haynes had a role with respect to the treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees, would rather not have to vote against Haynes. By preventing Haynes from getting past the Judiciary Committee, Graham relieves his friend from having to cast that vote.

Such an approach would be hypocrtical on the part of Graham and McCain. Neither has supported Democrats who wish to prevent floor votes on nominees with whom they have profound disagreements about law or policy. Both argue, correctly, that the proper course in these cases is to have an up-or-down vote, and to express profound disagreement by voting “down.”

Haynes, who has served this country to the best of his ability under very difficult circumstances, deserves no less. He has not ducked the tough questions about how to balance our need to obtain information from terrorists against our desire to treat prisoners humanely. Senators should not duck a vote on whether Haynes’ efforts to balance these considerations make him unacceptable for service in the judiciary.


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