WASHINGTON – Leading Democrats have left the door open to supersede a long-standing Senate tradition that Republicans could use to block some judicial nominees, raising hopes President Joe Biden will send more judges to federal courts. Will help you confirm.
The practice, known as “blue slips”, currently prevents senators from unilaterally considering potential federal district court judges for positions in their home states. Although not a formal rule, it is a courtesy that allows them to submit a blue slip and have a potential judge sign it, or withdraw the slip, essentially vetoing the nomination.
Before the fall midterm elections, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who has the power to honor or disregard the blue slip tradition, said: “I’m sticking with it. We’ve made it work.
But this month, Durbin said his position comes with a caveat: “I will not honor a blue slip that I believe discriminates because of race, gender or sex. So we’ll see how that develops.” It happens.”
The shifting posture for Democrats comes as Biden passed the milestone of getting 100 new judges through the Senate, with Democrats making clear they intend to confirm as many judges this session as GOP approval In his quest to remake the judiciary, with or without. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told NBC News he intends to top the 234 judges that former President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Senate acquired over four years.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he is prepared to end the rule “if we are seeing purposeful use of blue slips to hinder without a real reason related to the qualifications of judges, and this bar- Times happen.”
He said Democrats would need internal consensus to make changes.
“I can’t tell you what the magic number is – but the misuse and abuse of this process means we have to move on,” he said. “I am certainly of a mind that this practice becomes anachronistic and contradictory if it is misused.”
So far, Democrats have respected blue slip etiquette and confirmed 105 justices handpicked by President Joe Biden. With plenty of vacancies to fill in Biden’s first two years that weren’t threatened by custom, and facing a real chance of losing Senate control in the 2022 election, he’s done little to eliminate it. Showed desire But in recent weeks, Democrats have begun pressing the GOP to save the tradition by becoming more cooperative on the judges.
Asked to respond to Democrats opening the door to distribution with Blue Slips, Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee’s top Republican, said: “I’ll close it.”
“I think it would be terrible for the body,” said Graham, RSC, adding that cooperation on judicial selection is “a two-way street” between the White House and Republican senators. He said he gives Biden’s team a “low grade” on working with GOP senators on nominees.
Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, eliminated blue slips for circuit court selections during Trump’s presidency, but continued the practice for district courts.
Still, at a recent Judiciary Committee hearing, several Republicans cautioned against eliminating what’s left of the tradition.
“I would urge you to reconsider,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. “The blue slip is essential to the Senate’s constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent.”
Graham said: “Please, if you can, Mr. Speaker: stop this march toward eliminating blue slips for district court judges.”
Durbin responded that under Trump, Democrats accumulated 120 blue slips, allowing judicial nominees to move forward. “So far in this administration? 12” have been submitted by the GOP, he said.
The 2022 midterm elections are also a factor in the Democrats’ shifting strategy on Blue Slip. The party defied the odds in the midterm elections, preserving a Senate majority that allows them to confirm judges chosen by Biden. And leaving few options for legislative accomplishments, Republicans won control of the House.
Schumer is determined to fill every vacancy — currently nine on appeals courts and 72 on district courts, according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts. Dozens of vacancies in those districts are in states with at least one GOP senator, which Democrats fear will use courtesies to block any Biden candidate.
‘It’s entirely up to the Speaker’
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I. Said the blue slip tradition would stand a better chance of survival if Republicans were more cooperative in filling vacancies under Senator Biden.
“It would be helpful,” he said.
Carrie Severino, who runs the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, a key player in the political battle over the courts, Called on Durbin named examples of Republicans using blue slips to impersonate judges based on gender or race, and “didn’t paint their allies with the broad brush of bigotry.” She questioned how Durbin would determine whether withholding blue slips was discriminatory.
Meanwhile, liberal judicial advocates are pressing Democrats to quickly end the blue slip tradition and hit the gas on confirming judges while they still have time.
Russ Feingold, who now leads the libertarian-leaning American Constitution Society, said the practice is antiquated and “weaponized” for “partisan reasons.”
“When Republicans had an advantage, they didn’t hesitate to eliminate blue slips for the courts of appeals, which are a higher court,” he said in an interview. “Democrats would be kissing for this Congress not to get rid of it, so that gives them some scope for the very aggressive tactics the Republicans have used over the last four years.”
Feingold said that in order to achieve Schumer’s stated goal of topping Trump’s total of 234 new justices, it is “essential” for Democrats to eliminate the blue slip etiquette.
He said Durbin could take half measures and move forward with the judges if one of the state’s two senators signs it with his blue slip.
“It’s completely up to the president,” Feingold said. “It’s not a Senate rule.”