Orrin Hatch, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was delaying Lee's confirmation, had left the door open for such a move on Sunday, calling it "not as much of a finger in the eye" for a Senate that dislikes Lee's steadfast support of affirmative action.
Finger or not, Clinton may have had the upper hand all along. TIME's Justice-watcher Elaine Shannon says that Republicans' threats sound hollow. "There was some talk that the committee would retaliate by holding up some judicial appointments," she says — but as the GOP remembers all too well, shut-down politics is a dangerous game. "Who does that hurt more?" asks Shannon. "The side that provoked it, or the side that causes the gridlock? It's generally the latter."
Lee, in the meantime, can get to work.