Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

The End of the Blue Slip

The End of the Blue Slip

"The majority", meaning Republicans, will treat blue slips "as simply notification of how you're going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball", McConnell told the Weekly Standard.

With Democrats now having the ability to - in many states - prevent Trump's judicial nominees from advancing, McConnell told The New York Times recently that he thought the blue-slip practice should be scrapped for circuit-court nominations.

The majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has not had the most productive year in trying to hold his majority together and manage both their relationships with each other and with the White House. A Congressional Research Service report noted that "since 1979, the impact of negative blue slips has varied as leadership in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary has changed".

In that piece (with just the sort of headline McConnell's team was looking for amid accusations from conservatives that he wasn't being aggressive enough: "Mitch McConnell Goes to the Mattresses for Trump's Judicial Nominees"), McConnell said he would begin prioritizing consideration of judicial nominees over executive nominees. That sparked backlash from Democrats, who said the move would be hypocritical, as Republicans staunchly defended the blue slip process while Obama was in office.

The United States Senate behaves as though there are no time limits and no urgency to these matters. That will free up two Trump nominees for the appellate court, including current Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras. "In 2015, Chairman Grassley wrote that 'over the years, Judiciary Committee chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process, including [Leahy], my immediate predecessor, who steadfastly honored the tradition even as some in his own party called for its demise". So far, he has, and Sen. The judiciary committee is run by Senator Grassley, and it's up to him to decide who gets a hearing.

Aotearoa awaits decision on a coalition Government
While he is expected to make a decision today there is no word yet as to whether he will announce it publicly this week. After four full days of meetings NZ First's talks with Labour and National are set to wrap up today.

McConnell is under tremendous pressure from conservative groups to do more to confirm Trump's judges. They are wrong, and we can not overstate the frustration and growing concern with the Senate Republican leadership for its failure during the entire year to do its work, process the nominations, and address the issues the American people have elected and pay them to handle. McConnell's aides contacted the group to defuse the situation, per Politico. The process gives the party that does not control the White House leverage over the president's nominations, and some Democrats have used that power to deny Trump's nominees from moving forward in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer expressed hope that Grassley would not follow McConnell's lead. Or quite possibly, Grassley's not onboard with this step, and McConnell is lobbying him through the news media and the various conservative groups who will rush to applaud it.

When nominees "come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with", he said. "With well over 100 vacancies on the federal bench and 50 nominees awaiting action in the Senate, you all have performed the Herculean task of confirming". But relatively few of his choices have been confirmed.

Regarding federal courts, the Constitution further specifies that every single federal judge-from the Supreme Court to 13 courts of appeals to 94 district trial courts-must likewise be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. It also only takes 51 votes to clear a filibuster for those nominees.

Democrats have few other tools to slow down or block a judicial nominee.

Like this: