PFAW Response to McConnell Comments on Changing Blue Slip Process

Cheryl Sanders
October 12, 2017

The influential group had threatened to run ads against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell starting this week but backed off after winning assurances from the Kentucky Republican that the pace will quicken.

But McConnell's determination to abandon blue-slip approval is getting some push back from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, according to Politico.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, added that the comments in The Weekly Standard interview were a reflection of "the Leader's well-known public position on the matter".

The conservative Weekly Standard published an interview with McConnell Wednesday suggesting the GOP leaders had made a decision to get rid of blue slips.


But, it seems that solitary confirmation is also the singular key achievement in the judicial realm, and conservative groups are growing increasingly restless in watching and waiting for more open judgeships to be filled. And he can make this happen because he sets the Senate schedule.

The blue-slip practice requires consent from home state senators before the Senate Judiciary Committee proceeds with a federal judicial nomination.

It's true, the blue-slip tradition isn't all that hallowed.

It's not the first time senators have fought over the blue slip. The use of blue slips, he noted, is not a Senate rule and has "been honored in the breach over the years". Or quite possibly, Grassley's not onboard with this step, and McConnell is lobbying him through the news media and the various conservative groups who will rush to applaud it. By basically turning over his judicial nominating process to hard-core ideologues, Donald Trump has gone a long way toward overcoming the mistrust of Republican presidents among those whose primary focus is to reverse federal court precedents legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage, and allowing the expansion of the federal government at the expense of property owners.


McConnell won't change the 30-hour debate rule, Barnes reports, which Democrats used to great effect on Trump's earlier Cabinet appointee confirmations to gum up the works.

And Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) are pledging they will not return their slips for Ryan Bounds, Trump's 9th Circuit pick, or "any other nominee that has not been selected through our judicial process".

Filibusters for judicial nominees have already been significantly weakened so the majority party can confirm most without votes from the minority. "The committee has scheduled a hearing next week for five additional judicial nominees". And Grassley has argued that the Senate should stay in session longer - including skipping the current week-long break - to get more work done. "Sen. Grassley has said that he expects senators and the president to continue engaging in consultation when selecting judicial nominees, and that, as in the past, any abuses of the courtesy would be addressed on a case-by-case basis", Foy said.


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