October 11, 2017

Feinstein: Don’t Cede Senate’s ‘Advise and Consent’ Role

Washington—In response to comments by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and the Republican Caucus to uphold the 100-year-old “blue slip” process, which requires home-state senators to sign off on judicial nominees before they move forward:

“In 2016 alone, President Obama’s nominations of Judge Abdul Kallon for the Eleventh Circuit, Justice Myra Selby for the Seventh Circuit, Rebecca Haywood for the Third Circuit and Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes for the Sixth Circuit didn’t move forward because they didn’t receive two blue slips.

“Leader McConnell in 2016 used the blue slip process to block the nomination of Justice Hughes—after admitting that the Obama administration had tried to work with him for nearly two years to find a consensus candidate. She was one of 18 judicial nominees that Republican senators blocked during the last administration—back when they valued the blue slip.

“While Leader McConnell has now reversed his position on the blue slip, it’s important to remember that the decision about whether to continue to honor the process is not his alone.

“If Republicans pursue this path and eliminate the blue slip, the genie won’t be put back in the bottle. This change could affect them as well.

“It’s clear this administration doesn’t respect the role of Congress, which means Republican senators could also be faced with nominees that don’t reflect their own home states.

“It’s no secret that President Trump has differences with some Republican senators from states like Arizona, Tennessee, Maine, Alaska—they may be in the same boat as Democratic senators when they have judicial vacancies. Eliminating the blue slip takes power away from Republican senators in the event they are bypassed on nominations—under this administration or any other.

“I urge my colleagues to think long and hard about whether to further unravel the Senate’s role in the judicial nominations process.”

An editorial memo with additional background on the history of the blue slip is available here.

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