At least one GOP senator is signaling that he’s ready to rip up a long-standing, yet obscure, Senate tradition enabling a single person to single-handedly obstruct judicial nominees.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that in case Democrats start abusing the so-called blue slip rule, Republicans should think about dumping a policy, that enables a senator to close a judicial candidate from his or home state by merely not returning a blue slip towards Judiciary Committee.
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Committee chairmen traditionally will not forge ahead with all the confirmation process unless both home-state senators of a nominee get home a blue slip – giving these two lawmakers significant leverage on whether or not the White House will get its favored judicial picks.
“I think the blue slip tradition is a good idea whether it encourages the White House to talk ahead of time with senators,” Cotton told Hewitt, an avowed opponent in the blue slip rule. “But i cannot allow Democratic senators to stay to obstruct this president’s agenda. When they’re just arbitrarily not returning blue slips, we will have to consider changing that tradition to at least one of its past other kinds.”
President Donald Trump nominated his initial slate of conservative judicial nominees on Monday – including two candidates to the appellate courts who had also landed on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court justices in the presidential campaign.
Those two nominees are Michigan Supreme court Justice Joan Larsen, nominated on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Minnesota Top court Justice David Stras, Trump’s pick for your 8th Circuit.
The move has now drawn criticism from Democrats, who lobbed attacks at now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch as being recommended by conservative groups for example the Heritage Foundation additionally, the Federalist Society, which helped Trump craft those lists.
Michigan and Minnesota usually are represented by two Democratic senators, who could block either Stras or Larsen by not returning their blue slips into the committee. Not one of them have to this point indicated they could, although Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) raised concerns that Stras was included on Trump’s campaign list, and aides said the senators wasn’t sufficiently consulted ahead of the White House made the nominations.
“They informed me they would [nominate Larsen], and i also indicated we’ll experience our process and review and become input,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said from a brief interview on Monday.
The current Judiciary chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, reports although comply with the blue slip rule, but he’s noted there are exceptions during the past. Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went ahead and scheduled confirmation hearings for that number of Michigan judges beneath the George W. Bush administration, while the senators was blocking this process by declining an extra shot nowhere slips towards committee.
“Let’s be clear. It’s not at all a guide. It is far from down on paper during the Senate rules as well as rules in the Senate Republican Conference,” Cotton said on Hewitt’s show. “And the tradition changes substantially according to the preferences along with the views on the Senate Judiciary chairman.”