Editorials and Opinion
Republicans Love the Blue Slip (People For blog, 05/26/17)
Paul Gordon: in 2008, every Republican senator—including the current majority leader, Mitch McConnell— signed on to a letter vowing to oppose any judicial nominee who lacked support from a Republican home state senator. In other words, they insisted that both blue slips be submitted before doing anything on a nomination .... Then-Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, followed the blue slip practice the entire time he was chairman, during the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.... circuit courts have longtime vacancies that exist only because no hearing was held for an Obama nominee who got a blue slip from only one senator, not both ... When Chuck Grassley became chairman of the committee after the 2014 elections, he made a promise to Iowans in a local newspaper: ... "Over the years, Judiciary Committee chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process, including Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, my immediate predecessor in chairing the committee, who steadfastly honored the tradition even as some in his own party called for its demise. I appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it." ... In 2014, Orrin Hatch—the committee’s longest-serving Republican and its former chairman—fiercely defended the practice of requiring both home state senators’ approval before moving on a judicial nominee: "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. … I’m glad Chairman Leahy has preserved the blue slip process. It should stay that way." ... Nebraska’s Ben Sasse (also a committee member) explains the central role that home state senators play both before and after nomination. ... Chairman Grassley should resist any pressure he is getting to change the blue slip policy.
Senate GOP used “blue slips” to block Obama judicial nominees, but now wants to trash the practice (Brookings, 05/25/17)
Russell Wheeler: "Blue slips” are blue-paper forms that Senate Judiciary Committee chairs send to home-state senators asking if they approve of judicial nominees in their states. During the Obama administration, a Democratic or Republican negative or unreturned blue slip killed the nomination. Pre-2009 chairs may have enforced laxer versions of the practice, but the 2009-16 chairmanships of Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) allowed no exceptions. ... Senators used their blue slip prerogatives to forestall or veto nominations and give Trump over 100 in-place and announced vacancies, including over 30 that never had nominees.
Negative blue slips produced some dead-on-arrival Obama nominations, but the more pervasive impact of aggressive blue-slip were no nominations (“what’s the use?”) or extended White House-senator bargaining in search of mutually acceptable, or at least tolerable, nominees....Indeed, as to matters democratic, Obama’s elections, by fairly substantial majorities, should have given him greater authority to reshape the federal judiciary than did Trump’s, who squeaked into office with a substantial popular vote loss.
Protect the Senate: The Minority You Save May One Day Be Your Own (Morning Consult, 05/25/17)
Mac Campbell, OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR: As citizens, we should worry about the Senate and provide its members the political support they must have to withstand rabble-induced pressure to self-erode their power.
There is a quasi-judicial framework of rules and precedents that govern the Senate and equip minorities with the ability to sedate action and limit the tyrannical impulses of majorities, be they partisan or popular.... In the coming months, the mob will exert even more pressure on the Senate to enfeeble itself. ... Will Senate Republicans continue to respect the ancient “blue slip” prerogative that gives senators a modicum of sway over federal appointees who would govern in their home states? Perhaps.... Only informed and vigilant voters can enable the Senate to arrest its slide from the guardian of liberty to a gaggle of lemmings. Write your elected officials and express concern. The minority you save may one day be your own.
Republicans Are Laying the Groundwork For Their Normal Blue Slip Hypocrisy (Mother Jones, 05/22/17)
Kevin Drum: Patrick Leahy, the Democratic Judiciary Committee chairman from 2007-2014, applied the blue-slip rule impartially regardless of who was president. This was despite a vast level of obstruction from Republicans to all of Obama's nominees. On the one hand, good for Leahy. We could use more displays of integrity like this. On the other hand, Democrats lost out on a whole bunch of judges that they otherwise would have gotten confirmed.
By contrast, Republicans have a two-decade history of flipping the blue-slip rule whenever it conveniences them.
POINT OF VIEW: Florida shows bipartisan support for judicial nominees (Palm Beach Post [FL], 05/17/17)
Linda Geller-Schwartz, National Council of Jewish Women: President Donald J. Trump ... can act on an appeal from our two U.S. senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.
These two senators have jointly asked the president to re-nominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both senators, but left waiting for hearings .... Nelson’s and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies” ... With our courts already stretched razor thin, it only makes sense to move these qualified bipartisan nominees through the process rather than starting over from scratch. To underscore this point, Nelson and Rubio made clear in their letter that “timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies.”
The letter also refers to the failure of Senate leaders to take “timely action in the last Congress.”
Trump has pivotal job ahead in selecting Keeley's replacement (Exponent Telegram [WV], 05/15/17)
Managing Editor Matt Harvey column: Trump’s replacement for U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley — who takes senior status Aug. 12, opening up her seat — could be pivotal to the future of North Central West Virginia. ... The president would do well to listen closely to recommendations from U.S. senators Shelley Moore Capitol, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, because judicial appointments must be confirmed by the Senate, which already is fractured on many issues along party lines.
Keen observers of the court have pointed out some of the best qualities about Keeley.
Though she’s a Republican, she doesn’t let her party affiliation cloud her judgment when it comes to the law.
Keeley also has done a fine job of balancing compassion with protecting the public and sending policy messages through sentencing.
This is not the place for a purely political appointment.
While that could also be said about appointments for U.S. marshals and U.S. attorneys, it’s even more pivotal for a federal judge, who handles civil and criminal cases of the gravest importance.... Those who have practiced routinely and admirably in federal court on either side of the aisle also should receive ample consideration
Grassley Rewrites Senate History to Grease the Wheels for Trump’s Judges (Medium, 05/12/17)
Kyle Barry, LDF Policy Counsel: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has revealed that he is willing to trash longstanding Senate tradition and undermine his Senate colleagues to hand control of the federal courts over to President Donald Trump. Grassley said that he will allow Trump to go over the heads of Democratic senators to fill federal appeals court vacancies in their home states “because that’s the way it’s been.” Grassley’s statement is both historically inaccurate and dangerous .... Since 1951, only two judges have been confirmed despite a negative blue slip, and both were district court judges appointed by Republican presidents. Grassley’s predecessor, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, applied the rule strictly and never held a confirmation hearing unless both home-state senators approved.... Indeed, four of the current circuit vacancies exist only because Republican senators refused to return blue slips for Obama nominees .... of the 17 total Obama nominees blocked by blue slips, just one was a white man; 10 were women and 10 were African American.
Grassley signals he'll selectively allow Democrats to have a say on federal judges (Daily Kos, 05/12/17)
Joan McCarter: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is uniquely capable of revising history and norms and traditions to fit whatever partisan agenda he has. An unprecedented Senate blockade of a completely qualified and non-controversial Supreme Court nominee? Sure, we can do that, because this is the last year of the president's term in office. That's completely normal, said Grassley of the Merrick Garland blockade. He's got a new one now, this time how it's customary to let home-state senators weigh in on some federal judges, but not others. In other words, he's going to let Donald Trump have his key judges, and pretend like he's still recognizing Judiciary tradition.
Trump Is Disregarding Senate Norms to Get His Judges on the Bench (Center for American Progress, 05/12/17)
Jake Faleschini and Billy Corriher: Trump ignored the traditional vetting role of the American Bar Association, bypassed state judicial nominating commissions, and failed to consult with home-state senators.... Senators are in the best position to ensure that judicial nominees are well-respected in their local legal communities. ... Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) both released statements on Monday criticizing the administration for failing to consult with home-state senators about the recent slate of nominees.... Trump’s outsourced judicial selection process has led to several worrisome nominees.
Bob Casey ready to pick a blue-slip fight over the federal judiciary (Daily Kos, 05/11/17)
Joan McCarter: The lack of a blue slip has traditionally meant that that judge won't get a hearing. The current chairman, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says he intends to honor that tradition. And Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is warning that he will exercise his right of refusal.... As of now, Republicans on the committee are saying they'll respect the blue-slip tradition. ... This is an issue Democrats must force.
Democrats Can’t Stop Trump’s Agenda. But They Can Block His Judicial Nominees. Get ready for a hugely consequential Senate fight over blue pieces of paper. (Huffington Post, 05/11/17)
Jennifer Bendery: Trump is close to nominating David Porter to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, a source familiar with the nomination process told HuffPost. President Barack Obama nearly nominated Porter, a Republican corporate attorney, to a district court in 2014 as part of a bipartisan package deal that also included Democratic judicial nominees. But progressive groups torpedoed that agreement by launching a campaign highlighting Porter’s ties to groups opposed to abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and gun control.
Porter’s nomination to the Third Circuit is expected to be announced in the next couple of weeks, per this source, and is being pushed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), one of Porter’s home-state senators ... Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Porter’s other home-state senator, has warned the White House he’s prepared to withhold Porter’s blue slip if Trump nominates him.
Casey has “serious concerns” with this nomination, said the source.... Republicans abused the hell out of the blue-slip tradition during Obama’s presidency. In some cases, they refused to turn in blue slips for judicial nominees they previously supported, which contributed to the emergency level of vacancies on the federal bench today.
Toomey knows a thing or two about blue slips. He refused to turn in his blue slip for Obama’s nominee to the Third Circuit, Rebecca Haywood. As a result, she never got a committee hearing and her nomination was returned to Obama.... “Blue slips are one of the few weapons that are left to protect the minority’s rights,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and an expert on the judicial nominations process. “They also protect home state senators’ prerogatives to affect who is nominated from their states, which could be important for GOP senators who disagree with Trump.”... “Don’t forget,” added Tobias, “that blue slips were honored all eight years of Obama’s tenure and have a 100-year history.”
Trump judicial nominee John K. Bush has advocated stripping First Amendment protections from the press (Justice Watch, 05/11/17)
Lisa Nash: Bush, like Trump, believes New York Times v. Sullivan, the seminal case that articulated broad protections for members of the press covering public officials and actions, was wrongly decided.... at a 2009 Federal Society panel entitled The Constitution and the Importance of Interpretation: Original Meaning, after praising originalism, he discussed originalism’s application to the First Amendment. Bush emphasized “from an originalist perspective that New York Times v. Sullivan probably wasn’t correctly decided.”
Senate Democrats have the power to stop Trump's judge picks: Use it! (Daily Kos, 05/10/17)
Joan McCarter: Luckily, as of now, Democrats still have some power: the blue slip.... The custom in the Senate Judiciary Committee is for the chairman to hold off on bringing up nominees until their home-state senators sign off with so-called blue slips. Of course, the other tradition which Trump completely ignored in these cases is to get the names of his nominees through a negotiation process with those same senators. That's not what happened.
Trump Judicial Nominees (PrawfsBlawg, 05/10/17)
Prof. David Fontana: his judicial nominations so far have reflected what I blogged about previously: the strength of the judicial nominations part of his party.... I recently wrote an essay for a symposium in the Wisconsin Law Review about the relatively “cooperative” approach to judicial nominations utilized by the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration’s first nominee to the circuit courts was David Hamilton, a centrist district court judge in Indiana with established ties to both political parties. Hamilton was not particularly young, not particularly famous, and was the only circuit court nominee announced the day he was announced. By contrast, many of Trump’s nominees announced this week are very connected in the Republican Party, very young, and very known—and he announced ten nominees in one day.
[Editorial] The diversity problem on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 05/10/17)
"we share the lament of the Infinity Project about lack of diversity on the Eighth Circuit bench. If confirmed, Stras will be the 63rd judge to serve on the court. All but two have been male; only one has been a person of color. That overrepresentation of white males is a problem for the courts that the Infinity Project was created to expose and solve. A grass-roots advocacy organization founded in Minnesota a decade ago, the project holds that the courts better serve the public when those on the bench bring a range of life experiences and are widely representative of society.... Three of the 10 judicial nominees Trump advanced Monday are women. We hope that means he’s not oblivious to the Infinity Project’s concerns, and that he will strive for more diversity on the Eighth Circuit bench with future nominations."
Trump has just begun massively reshaping American appeals courts (Vox, 05/08/17)
Dylan Matthews: By putting Larsen (who’s only 48), Stras (42), and Thapar (48) on appeals courts, Trump is further burnishing their credentials for future Supreme Court vacancies. ... Make no mistake: Larsen, Stras, and Thapar are all reliable conservatives. Larsen served in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2002-’03, when Jay Bybee and his deputy John Yoo were laying the groundwork for the Bush administration's torture regime. She also clerked for Antonin Scalia, and praised him in a eulogy for his conservative, textualist insistence that “statutes, cases and the Constitution were to be read for what they said, not for what the judges wished they would say.”
Stras's campaign site for reelection to the Minnesota Supreme Court stressed that he thought judges should "faithfully interpret and apply the Constitution and laws passed under the political process, not follow their own political leanings or personal preferences." Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law, who researches federal courts, told Bloomberg BNA that Thapar was "very Scalia-like and Thomas-like" in his jurisprudence.
And all three, tellingly, were included on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, which was compiled by the conservative Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo....There are now more than twice as many district and appeals court vacancies as when President Obama took office
Trump Is Going to Lose It When He Finds Out About This Obscure Senate Rule (New York Magazine, 05/08/17)
Ed Kilgore: Current Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, like his immediate Democratic predecessor Pat Leahy, has been a staunch defender of the blue slip tradition. ... Both Stras and Larsen are from states with two Democratic senators ... Grassley and other Republicans will have to decide whether their short-term interest abolishing the blue slip tradition outweighs their long-term interests in maintaining it for use against future Democratic presidents. And Democrats may figure out ways to use blue slips carefully and strategically to resist an ideological overhaul of the federal courts without unduly provoking Grassley
The Trump Judiciary (People For blog, 05/08/17)
Paul Gordon: Conservatives are hoping for nominees who will regularly favor the powerful and fail to recognize the constitutional values of equality and liberty.... In addition to the scrutiny usually given to nominees, we must also be on the lookout for efforts to not just create a right-wing judiciary, but a Trump Judiciary.
We must protect our federal courts, so that they can protect us. The records of all of today’s nominees must be examined very closely.
Fill judicial vacancies [Letter to the Editor] (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [PA] , 05/03/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter-Pennsylvania: vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process, and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice.
A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years, although the Senate Judiciary Committee had unanimously approved nominee Susan Baxter to advance to a full Senate vote in 2015. Baxter's nomination languished for nearly a year on the Senate floor, and eventually expired.
Now is the time for Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania's federal court seats.
Both senators must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees, including Pennsylvania Judges Susan Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge.
If Toomey and Casey want to work effectively on behalf of their constituents, they'll ensure the Trump administration moves quickly to fill these seats with the consensus nominees.
Federal court seats remain open (Bucks County Courier Times [PA], 05/02/17)
Letter to the Editor by Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter-PA: Having vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice. A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years, although the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved nominee Susan Baxter, a United States magistrate judge from the Western District of Pennsylvania, to advance to a full Senate vote in 2015. ... Now is the time for our home state senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania's federal court seats. Both senators must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees, including Pennsylvania Judges Susan Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge. If Sens. Toomey and Casey want to work effectively on behalf of their constituents, they'll ensure the Trump administration moves quickly to fill Pennsylvania's vacant federal judgeships with the consensus nominees, which they've already agreed on.
Why Trump should fill all of Texas' judicial vacancies with women (Dallas Morning News, 05/01/17)
Commentary by Amanda Sharp Hinson, former aide to Sen. Cornyn: Trump will rely on Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, in consultation with the state's bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, to recruit, vet and propose Texans suitable for lifetime appointment to the federal courts.
They should choose women, so that justice is dispensed from a bench that looks more like the population of lawyers and litigants it serves. ... in Texas today, women hold only 23 percent of federal district court seats. Even if Trump filled every single vacancy in Texas district courts with a woman, women would still make up only 44 percent of active Texas federal judges.
Choose women to demonstrate that the legal profession is not an ossified "old boys" club .... There is no better way to fuel the opposition's fire than to insult half of the population — and half of the party — by not proactively correcting the gender imbalance in the courts.
Toomey, Casey must work to fill vacant judgeships | Letter (Express-Times [PA], 04/28/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter/PA: In Pennsylvania, there are nine open federal courts seats, two on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Vacancies on our federal courts leads to large caseloads for sitting judges, which impedes the judicial process and denies Pennsylvanians access to justice. A district court seat in Erie has been vacant for nearly four years although the Senate Judiciary Committee had unanimously approved nominee Susan Baxter, a federal magistrate judge from the Western District of Pennsylvania .... Now is the time for Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to continue their highly touted bipartisan relationship as it relates to filling Pennsylvania's federal court seats. They must ensure the Trump administration renominates their agreed-upon nominees including Pennsylvania judges, Baxter, Robert Colville, Marilyn Horan and John M. Younge.
If Toomey and Casey want to work effectively on behalf of their constituents, they'll ensure the Trump administration moves quickly to fill Pennsylvania's vacant federal judgeships with the consensus nominees, of which they already agreed upon.
My Trump agenda for Day 101: ... federal judge vacancies (Idaho Statesman, 04/28/17)
Robert Ehlert, Idaho Statesman's editorial page editor, column: Idaho federal judge ‘emergency’ On April 5, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated 6th District Judge David Nye to serve on the federal court in Idaho. That was over a year ago .... Under the supportive sponsorship of Crapo and Risch, Nye was later approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Crapo serves. But neither Nye nor any of the other 127 federal vacancies got filled by the end of Obama’s term due to partisan squabbling that included Republicans’ refusal to even consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. ...Crapo and Risch said Thursday that they had received assurance that Nye would be among the first judges nominated by Trump. ... We still need to see the official nomination, and then see Nye navigate the process to confirmation. Until then, any idea of prompt federal justice in Idaho suffers because Judge B. Lynn Winmill can handle only so many cases.
Many believe Idaho is deserving of a third federal judge position, but that expansion would have to be approved by Congress. Given how long it has taken so far to replace just one judge, I’ll settle for putting Nye to work for now.
Trump Vetting Extremist Judges to Fill Record Number of Empty Seats (Center for American Progress, 04/27/17)
Billy Corriher: President Donald Trump has a chance to nominate 127 federal judges to seats that are now empty. This is an astounding number of vacancies—amounting to one-seventh of the total federal judiciary and more than twice the number of vacancies that President Barack Obama inherited. The White House is vetting nominees for courts around the country, including extremist nominees from Texas for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has four vacant seats.... The administration’s current crop of nominees suggests that Trump will nominate pro-corporate judges who will consistently rule against American workers and the environment.
If Florida can do it, why not Colorado? (Huffington Post, 04/27/17)
Peg Perl, Colorado Ethics Watch: Florida U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R) & Bill Nelson (D) came together and made a bipartisan appeal to the White House as it embarks on filling over 120 judicial vacancies on the lower federal courts. Dozens of President Obama’s nominations for these lower courts expired when the new Congress started this January, but many of them were the result of bipartisan selection committee processes and joint recommendation lists from home state Senators to the White House.... Senators Rubio and Nelson have asked the White House not to reinvent the wheel and start over, but to just re-nominate these qualified bipartisan nominees for Senate confirmation in the new Congress.... In 2016, Regina Rodriguez was nominated by the White House after both Senators recommended her from parallel bipartisan selection committee processes. Both Senators Bennet and Gardner enthusiastically supported her nomination and committed to working to push for a speedy confirmation given the backlog of cases in Colorado’s federal court. ...Colorado would be right to look to Florida’s bipartisan delegation as a model for handling this process and together urge the White House to re-nominate Ms. Rodriguez
After years of obstructing judges, Republicans anxious to pack the courts with extremists (Daily Kos, 04/24/17)
Joan McCarter: Senate Republicans used every trick in the parliamentary playbook—and invented a few new ones—to keep President Barack Obama from appointing federal judges. ... the lion's share of the blame for the judicial crisis across the country rests on Mitch McConnell and crew. That's all changed, though, with popular vote loser Donald Trump in office. Here's their chance to pack the courts with ideologues, in the mold of new Supreme Court associate justice Neil Gorsuch.
Senators Want President Trump to Re-Nominate their Judicial Nominees: Both Democrats and Republicans think the president should select nominees who never got a vote in the last session of Congress. (Medium, 04/21/17)
"These judicial nominees were all unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but none received a vote on the Senate floor before their nominations expired. Now, their home-state senators want Trump to re-nominate them.
“Sen. Toomey believes it is crucial to place a sitting judge at the federal courthouse in Erie, which has remained vacant for years,” his spokesman said in February. “He believes that Judge Baxter has the intellect, experience and integrity to serve as a federal judge.” A spokesman for Minority Leader Schumer said of Sweet that “Sen. Schumer continues to support her candidacy.” And a spokesman for Sen. Mike Crapo, who now sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said earlier this year that “We’re really going to work hard on Nye.”... Senators who had nominees pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee would also like to see their nominees re-nominated. In Florida, Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, want their three nominees to the Northern and Middle Districts re-nominated by Trump. In Washington, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell want the president to choose from nominees put forward last April by a bipartisan judicial selection committee comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans. Obama nominated three of the committee’s five picks to the Western District of Washington, and Murray and Cantwell, both Democrats, want the same list used this time around.... And there’s certainly precedent for re-nominating.
In March 2009, all 41 Senate Republicans wrote a letter to President Obama about the judicial nominations process. “First, in the beginning of his Administration, your predecessor demonstrated his desire to improve the judicial confirmation process by nominating to the circuit courts two of President Clinton’s previous judicial nominees, Judge Barrington Parker to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Roger Gregory to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” the Senate Republicans noted to Obama. “It would help change the tone in Washington if your Administration would take the same bipartisan step.” ... Obama did work closely with Republican senators to fill judicial vacancies, and Chairman Leahy, without exception, required that both home-state senators return their blue slips before moving forward on any lower court nominee. He even did this against the wishes of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev., when Sen. Dean Heller, R. Nev., refused to return his blue slip for a district court nominee named Elissa Cadish.
“Despite press reports that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee now may be considering changing the Committee’s practice of observing senatorial courtesy, we, as a Conference, expect it to be observed, even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation,” the Republicans wrote in 2009."
Editorial: Trump needs to break deadlock on WNY judgeship (Buffalo News [NY], 04/20/17)
"The federal court vacancy is especially vexing. U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo is the only full-time district judge in Buffalo.
There is an enormous backlog of civil cases here, a bad situation .... President Barack Obama’s nomination of Buffalo attorney Kathleen Sweet for the vacancy sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee last year before being derailed by election year politics in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is sticking with Sweet for the opening, and he has the leverage to block any nominee of President Trump.
Senate traditions give senators the power to reject a court nominee from their home state. Schumer could use that “blue slip” veto to block a nominee until Sweet’s name is resubmitted.
If Trump refuses to do that, he would either have to negotiate some sort of deal with Schumer or hope the Senate removes the blue slip veto.... The federal judicial caseload here remains overwhelming. The backlog of civil and criminal cases makes this area among the worst in the nation. Because criminal cases receive priority, civil cases continue to get pushed back. On average, it takes five years for civil cases to come to trial in Buffalo.... The unfilled judgeship is different – no one is doing that work, adding to the delays in administering justice. Trump needs to nominate an acceptable candidate as quickly as possible."