The main potential stumbling block to progress on lower-court nominees: “blue slips.” As explained by prominent conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt in the Washington Post:
The blue slip is simply the piece of paper that is sent to the senators from the home state of every judicial nominee. If a senator has no objection to the nominee, the blue slip (so named for the color of the paper) is sent back to the Judiciary Committee chairman with an indication of approval. If the senator objects, the paper is either sent back indicating disapproval or not returned at all.Under current Senate practice, if the blue slip isn’t returned, the nominee doesn’t move forward. Hugh Hewitt isn’t a fan of this de facto veto power enjoyed by home-state senators; he condemns it as “simply and obviously deeply anti-democratic,” and wants Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to, well, give blue slips the nuclear treatment.
Senator Grassley recently told Roll Call that his Committee remains “committed to” current blue-slip practice, but noted that blue slips aren’t sacrosanct. This strikes me as totally reasonable: blue slips can be honored for now, and used by senators to stop truly unqualified nominees. But if the Democrats abuse blue slips by using them to stop qualified nominees whose ideology they just don’t like — basically what Republicans did to the eminently qualified Merrick Garland, and what Democrats tried to do to the eminently qualified Neil Gorsuch — then it might be time to shred the blue slip.
Monday, April 17, 2017
What's next for Trump and the Judiciary?
Justice Gorsuch takes his seat today on the Supreme Court. But there are still a ton of vacancies around the country at the District and Circuit levels (as well as U.S. Attorney positions). David Lat at Above the Law takes a look at what's going to be happening: