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blue slips

The blue slip judicial disaster

by Dan Burns on November 28, 2017 · 0 comments

A lot of us knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it less bad.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced (Nov. 15) on the Senate floor that he will still observe the courtesy of allowing Democrats to provide “blue slips” approving of judicial nominees, but that he won’t wait for that agreement before moving ahead with hearings. He also spent a lot of time bashing Democrats for trying to obstruct popular vote loser Donald Trump’s nominees. To which the only response can be: Merrick Garland.
But here we go. The way is now clear for Trump’s ridiculously unqualified people (mostly men) to the federal judiciary. Like Brett Talley, the ghost-hunting, gun-loving lawyer who has never tried a case and who conveniently forgot to mention that he is married to the chief of staff of the guy who is in charge of vetting Trump’s nominees. Oops.
(Daily Kos)

From November 2013:

The blue slip is not a formal Senate rule and can be ignored. Over time, some committee chairs have adhered to it more closely than others. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has stood by the practice and said after the filibuster change he will continue to do so.
“I assume no one will abuse the blue slip process like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the Senate,” Leahy said. “As long as the blue slip process is not being abused by home state senators, then I will see no reason to change that tradition.”
(Talking Points Memo)

And stand by it he did, leaving scores of federal judiciary openings for Trump to fill. Sen. Leahy apparently honestly believed that the “great traditions” of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” (there are still pompous old fools out there who call it that, with straight faces) would prevail no matter what.
How could he have been so gullible? Ask all the people who have been voting for conservatives their whole lives. That last sentence is rhetorical, of course; lifelong right-wingers are so far gone in motivated reasoning/cognitive rigidity that they couldn’t give you a straight answer if they wanted to.
But Leahy’s not a right-winger, and this should be a major cautionary tale for those tempted to trust a word that elected Republicans say, in this day and age.


Sen. Franken does a blue slip block on Stras

by Dan Burns on September 6, 2017 · 0 comments


While (Sen. Al) Franken’s formal objection makes clear where he stands, it won’t necessarily upend (MN Supreme Court Judge David) Stras’ nomination because Republicans control the Senate, and the Judiciary Committee has moved in the past to get around resistance from home-state senators who refuse to return so-called “blue slips” ahead of confirmation hearings. That said, nominees lacking that prior consent have faced trouble getting confirmed, with members of both parties citing tradition.
Franken issued a lengthy statement saying he is concerned that Stras is too conservative to gain his support. Stras was nominated for the post in May by President Donald Trump.
“Justice Stras’s professional background and record strongly suggest that, if confirmed, he would embrace the legacy of his role models and reliably rule in favor of powerful corporate interests over working people, and that he would place a high bar before plaintiffs seeking justice at work, at school, and at the ballot box,” Franken said. “The president should be seeking out judges who bridge the issues that divide us, but I fear that Justice Stras’s views and philosophy would lead him to reinforce those divisions and steer the already conservative Eighth Circuit even further to the right.”

I for one certainly don’t consider Stras’s nomination to be deceased. I’m frankly surprised that Senate GOP leadership hasn’t done away with blue slips already. I suppose the rationale is that in the long run the ability to block nominations this way benefits conservatives more. But that may well not outweigh the fierce desire to pack the courts with extremists, for much longer.


paulsenRep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) had an op-ed in the Strib last week.

The reason for the delay is that (MN Supreme Court Judge David) Stras’ nomination is being held up by Minnesota’s Democrat (sic) U.S. senators – Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. Neither senator has returned the “blue slip” necessary for the nomination to move forward…
Stalling Stras’ nomination is the latest example of partisan game-playing in Washington.
(Star Tribune)

This sudden concern over aggressive blue-slip use—shock a la Captain Renault to find blue slips being used in here—contrasts with aggressive blue slip use under Obama. Senators used their blue slip prerogatives to forestall or veto nominations and give Trump over 100 in-place and announced vacancies, including over 30 that never had nominees.

And Stras is no “outstanding judge.” Just another dime-a-million rich man’s whimpering, groveling judicial cur.

Yeah, “hypocrite” could be Erik Paulsen’s middle name. First and last names, too.


10439498_10202965631314937_7763882604465877273_nThe U.S. Senate finally got rid of the filibuster for executive and judicial nominees, because Republicans were shamelessly and vindictively using it to block pretty much everybody. Unfortunately, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, continues to allow the use of “blue slips” by Republicans, to shoot down some nominations. Leahy apparently has this bizarre delusion that the U.S. Senate is still fundamentally a “collegial” place full of intelligent, reasonable people who honestly mean well, but are just separated by a few minor differences of opinion that can be respectfully worked out with a little good-faith effort on all sides. It’s hard to determine how Leahy, who does not seem like a fool in general, can be so screwed up in his head on this particular matter. But that’s what we have to deal with.
So, President Obama cut a deal, down in Georgia: Conservatives could have a couple of their own, within reason, if they agreed not to block very important circuit court nominations. The result was predictable, and, thankfully, at least one U.S. Senator from Minnesota is having none of it.

Michael Boggs’ disingenuous answers to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee considering his nomination to the federal bench aren’t cutting the mustard with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).
Franken and his colleague Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) were particularly concerned about Boggs’ comments in his confirmation hearing that he made a completely uninformed vote for a controversial anti-abortion bill in the Georgia legislature, a measure that would endanger the lives of healthcare providers. Those concerns weren’t allayed by Boggs’ written responses to follow-up questions by the senators, and have led Franken to announce his opposition to Boggs.
(Daily Kos)

This could work. If there’s enough committee opposition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could decide to torpedo the nomination by simply refusing to allow a floor vote. That’s probably our best bet.

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