WASHINGTON – President Bush's judicial nominee Henry Saad (search) appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday but faced no questioning from panel Democrats.
"As far as I am concerned, you've had your hearing," committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (search), R-Utah, told the Arab-American state court judge.
Saad is not necessarily disliked by Democrats, but his nomination has been caught in the political crosshairs, a product of long memories and old grudges.
Tensions are high among Democrats who say they oppose Saad's nomination to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals because Republicans once opposed President Clinton (search)'s nominees to the same court.
Four openings exist on the court based in Cincinnati and representing Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. Bush's four nominees have been opposed by Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
"The fact that the last three-and-a-half years of Clinton's presidency passed without a hearing on Michigan's 6th Circuit nominees was not because there were no Michigan vacancies on that court," Levin said.
Republicans are quick to point out that when it comes to Michigan nominations to the federal bench, Bush is zero for six. President Clinton, on the other hand, had nine of his Michigan nominations confirmed. Only two languished without review.
Six of President George H.W. Bush's nominees for the Michigan courts were confirmed. Two did not get hearings, and in 1992, one of them was Saad.
While this hearing was going nowhere fast, over on the Senate floor, Republicans tried again unsuccessfully to get another Bush nomination off dead center. Democrats are filibustering the nomination of Miguel Estrada (search), the first Hispanic nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A motion to choke off debate and move forward requires 60 votes. Republicans won 55 votes -- the same number they have had each of the previous seven times such a cloture motion failed.
Democrats insist they will not allow a final vote until the Washington appellate lawyer answers more of their questions in a public hearing, or the White House releases Estrada's working papers from his time at the Justice Department.
In the meantime, Democrats say they may also set up a filibuster for Saad, making him the sixth casualty of Senate politics.
"I have no doubt that the majority of our caucus will support the Michigan senators," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
Among the others are Texas judge Priscilla Owen, who lost a filibuster vote Tuesday. Republicans have planned votes for Thursday and Friday on Alabama Attorney General William Pryor and California judge Carolyn Kuhl, but both are expected to be filibustered, as is Mississippi judge Charles Pickering when he comes before the Senate again.
Republicans say they will continue to pressure Democrats to vote on the president's nominations.
"The American people deserve it," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "They understand that we are not fulfilling our responsibility in this body without an up-or-down vote. That is our job. That is our responsibility in advise-and-consent."
Fox News' Brian Wilson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.