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Tuesday, May 9, 2017
GOP giving individual Democrats veto power over judges
Donald Trump has kept a campaign promise! When running for office, Trump promised to nominate conservative judges for the judiciary. He picked Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and now has nominated ten conservative candidates for circuit court judgeships.
To recap: President Trump...
1) made a campaign promise
2) kept his campaign promise.
Praise him with great praise!
Unfortunately, it looks as though at least two of those ten circuit court judges won't be going to the bench any time soon. That's because of an archaic Senate practice that helps judges, of either party, torpedo nominees from their state by withholding their consent, or "blue slips."
Two of the 10 judicial nominees that the White House unveiled Monday were on Trump's short list of potential Supreme Court justices during the campaign: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who will be nominated to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justice David Stras, who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court and is Trump's pick to sit on the 8th Circuit.
Minnesota and Michigan are represented by two Democratic senators. That gives Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, who hail from Minnesota, and Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters what amounts to veto authority over the nominees, who are already drawing objections from other Democrats.
Democrats will retain the blue-slip leverage, at least for now. A broad swath of Senate Republicans is opposed to doing away with the tradition, even as GOP senators blew up the old filibuster rules for Supreme Court nominees while they shepherded Gorsuch through to confirmation earlier this year.
Some prominent conservatives, such as conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, are urging Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to ignore the century-old blue slip tradition. But Grassley said he plans to abide by it.
In addition to Grassley, more than a half-dozen other Republicans on the judiciary panel said in interviews that they have no plans to ditch blue slips. That's the case even though doing so would allow Trump to more easily install conservative judges, particularly in states with two Democratic senators.
What this means is that Democrats in states with at least one Democrat senator can block judicial nominees from those states. So Democrats can block district court nominees from 19 states. Even worse than that, Democrats can also block appellate court nominees from the same states.
I understand that Republicans like the "blue slip" power when a Democrat is president, but you can be sure that Democrats will use it every chance they get to veto Trump's nominees.