Tom Fisher, Indiana’s solicitor general, had attracted the attention of White House counsel Don McGahn, who was lining up nominations for federal judgeships. McGahn’s office went so far as to contact a GOP-nominated judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 79-year-old Michael Kanne, to convince him to effectively give his notice of retirement so his spot on the bench could be filled.
It seemed like a great deal, replacing Kanne with a much younger man who could serve for life and also happened to have clerked for the elder judge he would be replacing. A great deal for everyone but Vice President Mike Pence. Politico reports that Pence and his aides killed Fisher’s nomination precisely because, as the state’s solicitor general, Fisher’s job was to defend the policies of the Pence administration when he was still governor. Apparently, Pence and his aides weren’t super excited by the prospect of a nomination that would bring scrutiny to Pence’s record as chief executive of Indiana. In particular, Pence didn’t want to revisit an episode in which he tried to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees to Indiana—an effort that was resoundingly rejected in court.
But that wasn’t the only issue from which Pence was running. Pence’s entire term as governor was pretty disastrous and he was most likely headed toward electoral defeat in 2016 when Trump gave him the escape hatch of being his V.P. pick. If Pence is trying to keep his own Solicitor General under wraps in order to cover up his own policies, just imagine what kind of political landmines are lurking in Pence’s record.