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Feinstein: Protect Senate Power on Judicial Nominees

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement calling on the Senate to protect its power on judicial nominees and correcting the record with regard to the history of the blue slip and consultation on judicial nominees.

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

“The blue slip is a Senate tradition that allows both home-state senators to have a say in which judges will serve in their states. It has been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike for 100 years, but it’s now in jeopardy by Senate Republicans who want to pack federal courts with Trump nominees.

“Eliminating the blue slip would end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees and remove any incentive for the White House to choose mainstream candidates.

“It’s important to set the record straight on the history of the blue slip. The bottom line is that no judicial nominee has been confirmed without two blue slips in nearly 30 years, and fewer than five times in the last 100 years. Not a single Obama nominee received even a hearing in the Judiciary Committee, let alone a floor vote, without both blue slips having been returned.

“It’s also important to set the record straight on the history of consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees.

“The Obama White House consulted extensively with senators on judicial nominees. I personally recommended John Owens and Jacqueline Nguyen for the Ninth Circuit. In cases where the White House had a preferred candidate, I was given ample opportunity to review their records and meet with them before they were nominated—and no candidate was nominated that I was unwilling to return a blue slip on.

“But the Obama White House didn’t just consult with Democratic Senators—it also consulted extensively with Republican senators. For example, Senators Hatch and Lee recommended Carolyn McHugh for the Tenth Circuit. Senators Isakson and Chambliss recommend Julie Carnes for the Eleventh Circuit. Other Republican senators regularly interviewed candidates prior to their nomination by President Obama.

“We’ve seen a troubling trend thus far in the Trump administration—candidates meeting only with Republican senators before they’re chosen.

“The result is a White House that refuses to consult with Democratic senators on judicial nominees, then accuses them of obstruction when they want to fully review the nominees’ records. And now, they are threatening to eliminate the blue slip.

“If Senate Republicans expect to play a role in choosing judicial nominees during the next Democratic administration, they need to think long and hard about moving to eliminate the blue slip today.”