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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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The Daily 202: Roy Moore’s victory and Bob Corker’s retirement are fresh indicators of a Senate that’s coming apart (Washington Post, 09/27/17)
James Hohmann: Now blue slips, one of the most cherished prerogatives of senators in the minority, are in grave danger. Gorsuch has demonstrated with his early decisions that he is likely to be the most conservative justice on the high court. The next Democratic president will almost certainly nominate someone who is as far to the left as Gorsuch is to the right. The judiciary will continue to become more politicized, and the country will continue its descent into tribalism.

The Unheralded Death of the Blue Slip: Republicans appear poised to break one of the Senate’s oldest, and finest, traditions. (Daily Beast, 09/26/17)
Eleanor Clift: This is particularly grating to Democrats who dutifully deferred to Republican home state senators when President Obama was in the White House. McConnell personally blocked Obama’s choice of Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes because he wanted someone else. ... After benefiting enormously from the blue slip tradition, McConnell had a change of mind when Democratic senators from Minnesota and Oregon did not return their blue slips for two Trump picks for the Court of Appeals. ... The blue-slip tradition has been violated only three times, most recently in 1989 and 1983 when California Democrat Alan Cranston refused to return his blue slip when President Reagan and then President George H.W. Bush were in the White House. Before that, you have to go back to 1936 .... No judge has ever been confirmed over the objections of both home-state senators .... Former Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy never once deviated from the blue slip tradition, and 18 Obama appointees never got hearings. All but one was a woman or a minority, part of Obama’s commitment to bring more diversity to the courts. Leahy took heat for that from fellow Democrats, and had to fend off then Senate leader Harry Reid, who wanted him to suspend the blue slips so Obama could get more judges. Leahy fiercely defends the blue slip as vital for the senate to advise and consent. He believes Grassley will honor his pledge, saying that in their 30-year relationship, Grassley has never broken his word.

Sounding off: BLUE SLIPS AND BIPARTISANSHIP (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [PA] , 09/23/17)
Letter to the Editor by Glenn Sugameli, founder and head since 2001 of Judging the Environment , a nonpartisan federal judicial nominations project: All Senate Republicans supported blue slips in a 2009 letter, as did a 2015 Des Moines Register op-ed and a 2016 post-election statement from Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Grassley “told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman” and “has never broken his word to me” over three decades. In a 2014 op-ed titled “Protect the Senate's important ‘advice and consent' role,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, stressed that “The blue slip process ... has greatly enhanced consultation and cooperation between home state senators and the White House. ... Weakening or eliminating the blue slip process would sweep aside the last remaining check on the president's judicial appointment power. Anyone serious about the Senate's constitutional ‘advice and consent' role knows how disastrous such a move would be … ultimately produc(ing) a more politicized federal judiciary.”

Letter: Inundated with TV ads (Chaska Herald [MN], 09/22/17)
Steven Sasnow: We are being inundated with TV ads pro-David Stras for U.S. Court of Appeals judge. These ads demonstrate exactly why Stras is unsuitable for the position.... hese are attack ads against Al Franken using innuendo and unsubstantiated claims.

Judicial candidates should be less partisan and more representative (MinnPost [MN], 09/21/17)
Joan Growe, former Minnesota secretary of state: the controversy over the nomination of Justice David Stras to serve on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals matters so much. ... Indeed, in their rush to pack our courts with activist conservative judges, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have cast aside long-held procedures that were designed to protect the impartiality of the federal bench, including the “blue slip” process that allows home-state senators participate in selecting judges who best represent their states’ citizens. This dangerous trend is part of the reason why, like former Vice President Walter Mondale and many others, I applaud Sen. Al Franken for taking a stand against inappropriate politicization of the judiciary by opposing Justice Stras’ nomination. But that is only part of the story. The Trump administration’s continuing refusal to consult with home-state senators before nominating judges threatens to make our courts not just more partisan, but less representative.... It took more than 100 years before a woman, District Court Judge Diana Murphy, was named to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Murphy would remain the only woman on the court for nearly two decades, and with her move to senior status this year, the 11-judge panel will again be left with only a single female jurist in active status. ... three times since he took office, President Trump has had an opportunity to nominate one of these women to the Eighth Circuit, and three times, he has chosen not to do so.... This is part of a pattern. For example, Trump has nominated 42 people to serve as U.S. attorneys for districts across the country, only one of whom is a woman."

Nancy Lyons: Hold the line on Stras nomination, senators (St. Paul Pioneer Press [MN], 09/21/17)
"[H]ome-state senators can still have a say. Specifically, if one or both of them has serious enough concerns, they can refuse to return a “blue slip” for the nominee, which by tradition can prevent the nominee from moving forward, and demand a more suitable nominee. That is a unique privilege and power that can prevent decades of damage to the federal judiciary and the rights of Americans for generations. Recently, our senators have found themselves in this situation. One of our state’s Supreme Court justices, David Stras, has been nominated to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which serves Minnesota and six other states. Sen. Franken led the way this month by announcing that he opposed Stras’ nomination. Sen. Franken knows that we did not send him to Washington to rubber-stamp the president’s agenda. Rather, he knows that we expect him to look out for us, and to use every tool available to him to protect Minnesotans from harm. And by refusing to return his blue slip on this nomination, he has done just that.... Justice Stras has routinely made decisions based on ideology rather than the law."

Voluntary Integration Decisions Take Center Stage in Debate over Eighth Circuit Judicial Nomination (Education Law Prof Blog, 09/20/17)
Derek Black: five votes support every position that Justice Kennedy took and no more than four votes support any other position on any other issue. In short, there is no way to get around the fact that is opinion represents the holding of the court. All three Courts of Appeals that have taken up the issue, along with U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, agree that Justice Kennedy’s opinion is controlling. This uniform judgment, particularly on a case of such importance, is what makes David Stras’ prior essay on Parents Involved curious. He wrote “many in the media and blogosphere are putting way too much emphasis on Justice Kennedy’s separate opinion in these cases.” ... Stras’ perspective is curious because it overlooks key details in the Court’s opinions and does so with a skepticism of school integration. His point appears to be to minimize the importance of Kennedy’s crucial decision, rather than accept its’ import: racial diversity and integration are compelling interests and states are free to pursue them under a number of different circumstances. Kennedy’s own words negate Stras’ argument that there is not much distance between the plurality opinion and Kennedy’s.... Stras acknowledges that Justice Kennedy’s opinion is controlling in most respects, but that only leads Stras to his third point that following Justice Kennedy’s in all respects is dangerous.... It is hard to say what drove Stras’ essay, but if it is the latter, those who are generally committed to civil rights are understandably wary of his nomination.

Blue slips & bipartisanship (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [PA] , 09/18/17)
Glenn Sugameli, founder and head since 2001 of Judging the Environment (, a nonpartisan federal judicial nominations project, Letter to the Editor: Current and former Republican and Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee chairmen explained the bipartisanship embodied in the home-state-senator blue-slip requirement for judicial nominees. This is why, as the editorial “Senate's blue-slip bounce: End this tradition” quoted me, “no circuit court nominees have been confirmed over the [blue slip] objection of one (or two) home state senators.” All Senate Republicans supported blue slips in a 2009 letter, as did a 2015 Des Moines Register op-ed and a 2016 post-election statement from Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Grassley “told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman” and “has never broken his word to me” over three decades. In a 2014 op-ed titled “Protect the Senate's important ‘advice and consent' role,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, stressed that “The blue slip process ... has greatly enhanced consultation and cooperation between home state senators and the White House. ... Weakening or eliminating the blue slip process would sweep aside the last remaining check on the president's judicial appointment power. Anyone serious about the Senate's constitutional ‘advice and consent' role knows how disastrous such a move would be … ultimately produc(ing) a more politicized federal judiciary.”

Editorial: A Hypocritical Battle Over Blue Slips (New York Times, 09/15/17)
"Now that Republicans control both the White House and Congress, top party officials, including Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, are itching to eliminate the last remaining tool the minority party has to influence a president’s picks for the federal courts — the so-called blue slip. This longtime but informal Senate practice allows a senator to block the nomination of a judge from his or her home state by refusing to sign off on a blue-colored form. The idea was to give senators, who are presumed to be more familiar with the lawyers and judges in their own states, a meaningful say in the choosing of those judges. It also works as an incentive for moderation in staffing the federal judiciary, which, as the only unelected branch of government, depends on the public trust for its legitimacy.... Back in 2009, Mr. McConnell and the entire Republican Senate caucus — then in the minority — implored President Barack Obama to honor all blue slips. The appointment of federal judges is a “shared constitutional responsibility,” the Republicans said, warning Mr. Obama that “if we are not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from our states,” the senators intended to prevent that nominee from getting a hearing. They expected the blue-slip policy “to be observed, even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation.” Lucky for them, it was. Senator Patrick Leahy, the veteran Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time, applied the policy without exception, meaning that a single withheld blue slip would torpedo a judicial nomination. Republican senators exploited their blue slips with abandon, and with little or no explanation. One senator blocked a nominee because she had once said the Constitution did not protect an individual right to bear arms — an accurate description of the uncertainty about the law at the time. Other senators blocked nominees they had previously approved for other courts, or even recommended to the White House themselves. In all, 18 of Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees were scuttled, including six to the Courts of Appeals. That’s not counting dozens more vacancies that languished for years without a nominee because senators made it clear they would object to anyone.... President Trump now has 144 vacancies to fill on the federal bench, many as a direct result of Republican intransigence during the Obama era.... Unlike their Republican counterparts, however, these Democrats provided a clear explanation for their opposition: The White House, they said, made no meaningful effort to consult with them before making nominations. Mr. Wyden and Mr. Merkley said Mr. Trump had completely bypassed Oregon’s well-established bipartisan selection committee. These are fair complaints. The Constitution gives the president the power to choose federal judges, but only with the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

Meet the Republican-Appointed State Supreme Court Justice Blocked by Blue Slips (Huffington Post, 09/15/17)
Christopher Kang, Former Deputy Counsel to President Obama: Meet Justice Lisabeth Hughes. Senator McConnell blocked her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. By refusing to return his blue slip.... Senator McConnell was willing to—in his own description this week as he opposed blue slips—“blackball” one of his state’s Supreme Court Justices, twice-appointed by a governor of his own party.... for nearly two years, Justice Hughes waited in limbo, as the Obama White House consulted with Senator McConnell, trying to gain his approval. Finally, on March 17, 2016, President Obama pressed forward and nominated Justice Hughes .... remind those who disagree with Senator Franken’s substantive reasons for opposing Justice Stras’ nomination that Senator McConnell didn’t bother giving any substantive reason at all.... By any understanding of the precedents and standards of how blue slips have been used—including by Senator McConnell with respect to Justice Hughes—Senator Franken’s application has been more than fair.

Blue Slip Blues: 5 Corrections to the Ongoing Debate: The Senate Judiciary Committee is seeing a renewed debate around ‘blue slips,’ which give Senators input on judicial nominees from their states. (Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, 09/15/17)
Laila Robbins: the current policy is the same blue slip policy Chairman Leahy maintained during both the Obama and Bush presidencies....Republicans are calling for Democrats to move nominees through the Judiciary Committee significantly faster than they did under Obama.... Consultation with home state senators prior to submitting a nomination has remained a central tenet of blue slip policy.... Democratic Senators are withholding blue slips because they say the White House did not consult with them before submitting nominations. Republican Senators used this same argument to justify withholding blue slips under Obama. ... History reveals the blue slip need not be motivated by partisan gamesmanship, but current Chairman Grassley (R–IA) may deviate from his predecessors and politicize the blue slip.

Senator Franken’s Courage (Huffington Post, 09/14/17)
Nan Aron: Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota did a simple, reasonable thing, that in the context of the current cravenly-led Senate stands as a monumental act of courage: he announced he would not return his “blue slip” on the nomination of David Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.... And there is plenty of justification to oppose Stras.

No Such Thing as Exceptions to the Blue Slip Rule (People For blog, 09/14/17)
Paul Gordon: In their effort to stack our nation’s federal courts with as many far-right ideologues as possible, Republicans have been threatening to do away with the blue slip policy. Conservatives are outraged that Democratic senators dare to exercise a right they have long had, and which Republican senators routinely exercised during the eight years Barack Obama was president. ... When a policy is absolute (as the blue slip policy has been under both Grassley and his Democratic predecessor Patrick Leahy), then making exceptions, even infrequently, is by definition eliminating the policy. ... 1. Republican refusals to agree to hearings by submitting blue slips have been respected 100% of the time—regardless of the reason or lack thereof, regardless of the nominee, regardless of the party of the president or chairman, and regardless of the need to fill the vacancy as soon as possible; and Republicans are demanding that Democrats submit blue slips much earlier for Trump nominees than was the case for Obama nominees.... if he holds a hearing for any nominee without blue slips from both home state senators, all other senators will be on notice. He will have stripped each one of a major prerogative

Republicans are close to scrapping a Senate tradition in order to help Trump pack the courts (The Week, 09/14/17)
Peter Weber: During former President Barack Obama's eight years in office, Grassley and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) strictly honored the blue-slip requests, and Republicans took full advantage, leaving Trump a record number of federal judicial vacancies — 144, including 21 appellate judges and 115 district-level judges. Democrats got rid of the filibuster for appellate and district judges, so the blue slip objections are the only real lever Democrats have left.

Mondale defends Franken role in blocking judge (Minnesota Public Radio, 09/14/17)
Bob Collins: Former Vice President Walter Mondale knows the law. He also knows the Senate. And he’s firmly on the side of Sen. Al Franken in opposition to Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras’ appointment to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

10 Things You Need To Know About Blue Slips: Republicans repeatedly used the tradition to block President Obama’s judicial nominees. (Huffington Post, 09/13/17)
Christopher Kang, Former Deputy Counsel to President Obama: Both home-state senators receive a blue slip, and each senator must return a positive blue slip for a judicial nominee to be confirmed — with only three exceptions in 100 years, the most recent in 1989.... overriding negative blue slips would diminish every senator’s influence over his or her home-state’s judicial nominees.... A judge has never been confirmed over the objections of both home-state senators.... Objections by Republican home-state senators have always been respected.... During the Obama administration, Republicans blocked 18 judicial nominees through blue slips.... he Judiciary Committee—under both Chairmen Leahy and Grassley—made zero blue slip exceptions during the Obama administration....When Republicans blocked nominees by withholding their blue slips, they often refused to examine or discuss a nominee’s record and based their objections solely on process — despite a record that suggests months or even years of consultation.... When Republicans returned their blue slips, it could take many months — or even years — to do so, undermining Republican whining now that Democrats are taking a few months to review nominees’ records.... There is no Democratic abuse of the blue slips, as Democrats already have returned blue slips on four circuit court nominees — including two on President Trump’s Supreme Court short-list.... We must uphold the Grassley-Leahy-Hatch blue slip standard.... According to Senator Leahy, “[Chairman Grassley] told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman. And I take him at his word…I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never broken his word to me.” Instead, Senate Republicans should heed the words of Senator Hatch — who also is the longest serving Republican senator: “I sincerely hope that the majority will not continue to sacrifice the good of the Senate and the good of the country simply to serve short-term political interests. I’m glad Chairman Leahy has preserved the blue slip process. It should stay that way.”

Editorial counterpoint by Walter Mondale: Franken has navigated Stras nomination properly: Faced with a president who won't collaborate and a conservative movement with a shrewdly developed pipeline to the courts, our Minnesota senator is acting in our best interests by withholding his support. (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 09/13/17)
"I spent many years working on judicial nominations, both during my tenure as a senator and when I served in the White House as vice president. I have seen how fundamental it is to the American system of government that the courts receive bipartisan support.... President Barack Obama and his predecessors followed this tradition. President Donald Trump has ignored it, a disruption of the long-standing process. For reasons that can only be interpreted as purely partisan, he has refused to consult with Democratic senators on judicial appointments. Many senators have rightfully regarded this approach as an encroachment into the institutional role of Congress.... Franken has acted appropriately in defense of Senate procedure — and he is also right to oppose Stras on the merits. As the chief author of the Fair Housing Act, I am greatly concerned about what Stras’ confirmation could mean for the act and other civil-rights laws.... It is unreasonable to ask that Franken defer to a Senate tradition while a partisan White House ignores that very same tradition. Without the participation of the White House, Franken cannot single-handedly restore comity to the Senate — and in attempting to do so, he would risk being played for a sucker."

GOP May Break Democrats’ Best Weapon Against Wave of Right-Wing Judges (New York Magazine, 09/13/17)
Ed Kilgore: in some cases, Senate Democrats who have been bypassed in the judicial selection process are retaliating via the 100-year-old tradition of the “blue slip” .... Dahlia Lithwick notes the hypocrisy of GOP whining about blue slips now that they are being deployed against conservative nominees: A Democratic Senate during the Obama administration kept the blue-slip process intact, even though it meant that in certain jurisdictions seats remained unfilled for years. To be clear: Not one Obama district or circuit court nominee received a hearing unless both of his or her home-state senators returned blue slips. That meant, for instance, that a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—covering Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas—has been vacant for more than five years. This is, in fact, one of the reasons Trump has so many empty seats to fill.... Current Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has in the past been a staunch defender of the blue slip tradition

10 Things You Need to Know about Blue Slips (American Constitution Society Blog, 09/13/17)
By Chris Kang, ACS Board member and former Deputy Counsel to President Obama

Franken-Stras faceoff leads to silly ad by conservative group (Minnesota Public Radio, 09/13/17)
Bob Collins: The bench is serious business. A conservative judicial group, however, went juvenile, instead, releasing an ad today claiming that Franken is jealous of Stras. This nonsense is the classic dumbing down of a complex political story.... It also doesn’t acknowledge a reality of judicial elections in Minnesota. Voters rarely know anything about the judicial candidate they’re voting for

Mitch McConnell Hints At Weakening Dems’ Ability To Block Trump’s Judges: The GOP leader is making it known he doesn’t like a Senate rule that lets the minority party stop judicial nominees. (Huffington Post, 09/13/17)
Jennifer Bendery: McConnell said Wednesday, for the first time publicly, that he supports keeping the rule in place for U.S. District Court nominees but not for appeals court nominees ... On several occasions, GOP senators refused to turn in blue slips for nominees they had recommended to Obama in the first place, just to prevent the Democratic president from filling a court seat. McConnell was among those who did that. When Senate Democrats were in the majority under Obama, they honored the blue slip rule even when Republicans used it to block Obama’s nominees.... McConnell, who is still somewhat of an institutionalist, may just be making the statement to appease conservative groups clamoring for this change. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has made similar comments about blue slips but has yet to stop honoring the rule.... Easing the blue slip rule to cut Democrats out of part of the process would just make it easier for them. But it would also open the door to Democrats doing the same thing to Republicans when they regain the Senate majority, and it would erode bipartisanship in the process. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chaired the Judiciary Committee during Obama’s tenure and upheld the blue slip tradition, told HuffPost in June that Grassley “made it very clear” to him this year that he appreciated that Leahy honored the blue slip rule for Republicans when Obama was president. He said Grassley told him personally that he planned to honor it, too. “I take him at his word,” Leahy said. “I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never broken his word to me.”

Sen. Grassley has been 'inconsistent' with Judiciary Committee rules, traditions (Des Moines Register [IA], 09/12/17)
Drew Kelley, Letter to the Editor: Sen. Grassley set an unprecedented record of obstruction when he denied Judge Merrick Garland even the courtesy of a hearing. ... Sen. Grassley cited strict adherence to the non-existent “Biden rule” as the reason for his obstruction. However, Grassley’s respect for the rules quickly vanished when he voted to change the confirmation process to a simple majority for President Donald Trump's nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. Sen. Grassley has another opportunity to show America whether he values the Committee’s rules and traditions over partisan politics and opportunism. Sen. Al Franken has stated he will exercise his right to withhold the blue slip for the nomination of Justice David Stras. The blue slip tradition halts proceedings on a nominee unless approved by both home-state senators. This tradition has been honored completely under Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen Leahy and Grassley since 2009, including four instances on Obama circuit nominees last year alone. Will Sen. Grassley return a level of decorum to the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Bye-Bye, Blue Slip? Republicans want to trash another century-old Senate norm to help Trump. (, 09/12/17)
Dahlia Lithwick: A Democratic Senate during the Obama administration kept the blue-slip process intact, even though it meant that in certain jurisdictions seats remained unfilled for years. To be clear: Not one Obama district or circuit court nominee received a hearing unless both of his or her home-state senators returned blue slips.... This past spring, though, Republican senators who had spent years using the blue-slip process to block Obama nominees threatened to do away with the practice if Democrats used them to block Trump’s.... This is mostly hilarious hypocrisy.... In states such as Oregon or Washington, where well-established bipartisan merit selection panels have taken down the temperature on judicial nominations under both Republican and Democratic administrations, use of the blue slip isn’t merely obstruction of a president. It’s also a protection of long-standing state prerogatives and protocols.

Readers Write: Sen. Al Franken and the Stras nomination (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 09/08/17)
Barbara Isaacman: The editorial turned the truth on its head. Franken is providing a great service for the people of this country by opposing this nomination in the manner (that is, the refusal to return the “blue slip”) used by the Senate for decades. Rather than allowing home-state senators to recommend judicial nominees for his consideration, President Donald Trump has outsourced the judicial selection process to the ultraconservative Federalist Society, whose out-of-the-mainstream legal philosophy does not reflect the values of the American people. Unless senators begin to use the tools at their disposal to stop this runaway train, the rights that Americans hold dear will be lost for generations to come and the protections accorded citizens by the Bill of Rights will be severely weakened. Instead of criticizing Franken, the Editorial Board should be applauding his act of courage.

JUDICIAL NOMINATION: Editorial Board is wrong: Franken is showing courage (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 09/08/17)
Larry LaVercombe, Letter to the Editor: I have to disagree with the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s opinion on U.S. Sen. Al Franken blocking the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.... Franken is doing his job to set a limit.

Why the Trump-Franken fight over a Minnesota judge is a bad omen for our political system (MinnPost [MN], 09/06/17)
Eric Black: the Republican leadership of the Senate, claiming a bogus historical precedent that did not exist, refused to even hold a hearing on the Garland nomination.... Rep. Erik Paulsen, a loyal Republican, wasted an entire Star Tribune commentary attacking his Senate colleagues for holding up the Stras nomination without mentioning the Garland case."

Franken Won't Turn in His Blue Slip (, 09/06/17)
"Grassley has been in Congress for 42 years and knows that some day the shoe is going to be on the other foot, with a Democratic president nominating an extreme liberal and a conservative senator from his state objecting. For this reason, he might decide to keep the blue-slip tradition, just as Mitch McConnell has no intention of abolishing the filibuster because he understands this shoe/foot business. Nevertheless, there will be intense pressure on Grassley to ignore Franken and kill the tradition to get Stras confirmed. If it is killed, there will be many new "Strases" to follow, in part because Barack Obama had many of his of his nominees to the federal bench killed by blue slips, which has led to an exceptionally large number of federal judicial vacancies."

Amid tension, Trump and McConnell together on judges (CNN, 09/05/17)
Joan Biskupic: In March 2009, soon after Obama had become president and while Democrats held a majority in the Senate, then-Senate Minority Leader McConnell joined other GOP senators in a letter warning Obama that Republicans would intensely screen his nominees and exercise their home-state interests In the end, Obama won fewer appeals court confirmations than recent two-term presidents and had to wait longer for Senate approval of the nominees who cleared the process. Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution's Governance Studies Program, who has tracked judicial nominations for decades, said that the median time for Obama appeals court candidates, from nomination to confirmation, was 229 days. During George W. Bush's tenure, the median was 219 days, during Clinton's it was 139 days, and during Reagan's tenure it was 45 days. These days, McConnell and other Republicans are pushing for swift action on nominees, some wanting to toss out the "blue slip" tradition. Grassley acknowledged, with some irony, the switch during that May town hall. "In March of 2009 all of the Republican senators signed a letter to the Obama administration that we were going to use the blue slip," he said. "Now I've got my Republican colleagues ... a lot of them on the right that think we ought to do away with the blue slip."

Franken announces attempt to block Trump judicial nominee (Daily Kos, 09/05/17)
Joan McCarter: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) will not give his approval for Donald Trump's pick of Minnesota state Supreme Court Justice David Stras for the 8th Circuit Court. The Senate has traditionally allowed home state senators to approve or oppose nominees to the judiciary.... Franken's willingness to fight is critical. The rest of his colleagues on the Judiciary need to join him and do everything in their power to resist allowing Trump to remake the judiciary.