GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is opposing a procedure used by Senate Democrats to block President Trump’s judicial nominees despite Republicans using the same procedure to block several of President Obama’s nominees.
“My personal view is that the blue slip, with regard to circuit court appointments, ought to simply be a notification of how you’re going to vote, not the opportunity to blackball,” McConnell told The New York Times.
The Hill notes:
The Senate’s “blue slip” practice — which isn’t a rule but a tradition enforced by the Judiciary Committee chairman — allows home-state senators to sign off on a judicial nominee on actual blue slips of paper before the committee holds a nomination hearing. By not returning the paper, the senators can effectively block a nominee.
McConnell added that he supports continuing the blue slip rule for district court nominees, whose decisions can be overturned by circuit court judges. Republicans have talked for months about narrowing the blue slip rule to exclude circuit court judges, who have jurisdiction over several states.
Democratic senators are now warning that they will not return blue slips on several of Trump’s court nominees.
Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden both announced that they would attempt to block Ryan Bounds, nominated by Trump for the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. They warned they would fight to block Bounds “or any other nominee that has not been selected through our judicial process.”
Sen. Al Franken said he would oppose Trump nominee David Stras, to serve on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Republicans used the blue-slip objections to block several of President Obama’s nominees.
The party is now under intense pressure from conservatives to get rid of the precedent altogether so they can install Trump’s picks on the courts.
Democrats, however, are warning Republicans against eliminating the precedent, noting they could be back in the minority and powerless to block judicial nominations they are opposed to.