Because of constant Democrat obstruction to literally anything that the Trump administration and GOP try to do, Senate traditions are slowly being stripped away, one filibuster and blue slip at a time.
We see this predominantly in judicial hearings and confirmations. A perpetual tug of war between Democrats and Republicans, attempting to right past wrongs, seek revenge, avoid a partisan bench.
And the battle continues.
Now, Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, is handing out a red slip for all the blue slips; because, frankly, he does not care.
What is a blue slip?
Blue slips ask senators what their opinion is of a particular judicial nominee–whether they approve or disapprove.
It is a a tradition that dates back one hundred years. If a Senator submits a blue slip regarding a particular nominee, the Senate will not hold a confirmation hearing for judicial nominees without their home-state senators’ approval.
The blue slip process was “one of the Democrats’ last major leverage points over Trump’s judicial nominees, after they voted to kill the filibuster for most nominations four years ago.”
But that tradition may end rather soon.
According to Politico:
The Iowa Republican announced Thursday that he is going ahead with a confirmation hearing for a nominee to the powerful appellate courts despite the objections of a Democrat who had been blocking the nomination for months…
…Grassley says he has scheduled hearings for David Stras, a nominee to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Stras’ home-state senator, said earlier this year that he would not return the so-called blue slip for Stras because of his conservative ideology.
Well, Franken, there are a few ideologies of yours we don’t agree with. Sexually harassing and abusing women, fondling them in a picture while they are sleeping, being a generally-awful human being. But I digress…
Grassley told the Senate, “The Democrats seriously regret that they abolished the filibuster, as I warned them they would…But they can’t expect to use the blue slip courtesy in its place. That’s not what the blue slip is meant for.”
And Stras isn’t Trump’s only nominee. There are many others that he has put forth for vacancies on the federal bench.
Grassley will announce that he will hold a hearing for Kyle Duncan, picked by President Donald Trump to serve on the 5th Circuit. His home-state senator, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), has returned a blue slip, but he noted that he was undecided on the nomination as he submitted the paper.
Four senators have not submitted blue slips for Trump’s nominees.
Before Grassley, “committee chairs have rigidly adhered to the blue-slip rule for district court nominees, whose courts span just a single state. But they have been more flexible for the more influential and powerful circuit courts.”
Grassley argues, because circuit courts cover several states, there is no reason to defer to a single senator’s view of a nominee.
Democrats are, *shockingly*, furious.
California Senator and fellow Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein criticized Grassley’s decision, “The lengths to which Republicans are going to jam extremely conservative and controversial nominees through the Senate is unprecedented.”
Yeah, you’re right Dianne. It reminds me of when Democrats ended the filibuster to push their extraordinarily liberal nominations through. It’s not so much fun when the other side of the aisle does it, huh?
What are your thoughts? Should Grassley follow this tradition? Or is it OK that he is abandoning it?