July 12, 2017

Feinstein: Protect Senate ‘Advise-and-Consent’ Role on Judicial Nominees

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the Senate to protect the role of senators in the nominations process. Over the past two weeks, there have been a number of baseless attacks against the blue slip and Democratic senators:

  • The White House on July 10 distributed an article claiming that Democrats are obstructing judicial nominees, misleadingly removing an excerpt saying that Democrats haven’t been consulted on nominees.
  • The Koch brothers have asked their donors to lobby Republican senators to eliminate the blue slip. (USA Today, July 4, 2017)
  • The Judicial Crisis Network has run baseless attack ads against Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters (both D-Mich.) for vetting nominees. (Judicial Crisis Network Press Release, June 30, 2017)

Feinstein statement:

“I want to set the record straight with respect to blue slips. The blue slip has been used since 1917 and history is being misrepresented in a brazen attempt to destroy the Senate’s prerogative to ‘advise-and-consent’ on judicial nominees.

“The blue slip is the one opportunity that home-state senators have to weigh in on judges that will serve their constituents and it has always been taken seriously. It was always honored during the Obama administration—even when Republicans did not return blue slips for up to two and a half years.

“The bottom line is that no circuit court nominee has been confirmed without two blue slips from home-state senators since at least 1981. As far as this senator is concerned, no senator should be chastised for thoroughly vetting nominees using a tool that’s been around for 100 years.

“It’s telling that just six months into the Trump administration there is this proactive effort to effectively eliminate the role of senators in the nominations process. No Democratic senator has said that he or she will reject all Trump judicial nominees. Rather, they will review nominees on a case-by-case basis. This effort isn’t a response to obstruction—there’s been no obstruction. This is about giving conservative outside groups the ability to hand pick judges.

“Rather than nominate candidates to fill vacancies in states with two Republican senators, the White House has prioritized vacancies in states with Democratic senators. There are three vacancies on the Fifth Circuit, including two in Texas that have been open for more than three years. If the White House was so concerned about vacancies it would have focused on these seats.”

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