How Senate Republicans might make it easier to push through Trump’s judge picks


Blue slips, explained.

Senate Democrats and judicial liberals are panicking. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it appears, wants to do away with “blue slips,” making it impossible for senators to block federal court nominees from their states whom they don’t like, removing a powerful tool for Democrats to resist President Trump’s court appointments.

But experts say the situation is less dire. It’s not clear yet how McConnell is changing the rules, the blue slip rule has changed frequently in the past, and whether it exists doesn’t change the fact that Trump will be able to fill a staggering number of vacancies.

Blue slips are a tradition that the Senate Judiciary Committee has historically used to consult the two senators from a federal court nominee’s home state. When, for example, President Trump nominated David Stras from Minnesota for a spot on the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the two senators from Minnesota, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar (both Democrats), were given a chance to return or withhold a “blue slip” in support of the nomination. If both slips are returned, it signals the senators support the nominee. If either is withheld, it signals the nominee doesn’t have the complete support of his or her state.

This isn’t a veto power; it’s not unheard of for nominees without two blue slips to ultimately be confirmed. But it’s rare. As Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has noted, “During the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, no circuit court or district court nominees were confirmed without blue slips from both home-state senators.”

That gives enough power to individual senators, particularly ones from the opposing party, to greatly annoy the Senate leadership. So McConnell told the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes that blue slips will not be honored; …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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