Editorials and Opinion
Pa.’s senators must promote gender diversity in federal courts (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 07/21/17)
KADIDA KENNER, Why Courts Matter – PA: the Trump administration decided to stay the course and nominate another white man for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seat .... Sen. Pat Toomey blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Judge Rendell for the 3rd Circuit, Rebecca Haywood, when Mr. Toomey refused to submit his home-state blue slip allowing for a judicial hearing for Ms. Haywood. For nearly one year, Ms. Haywood, an African-American and highly qualified assistant U.S. attorney from Western Pennsylvania, waited ... and the 3rd Circuit continues to lack gender diversity and the perspective of an African-American woman on its bench.
For anyone keeping score, Ms. Haywood’s confirmation would have been only the 21st federal court confirmation in Mr. Obama’s last two years of his presidency, compared with Ronald Reagan with 83, Bill Clinton with 72 and George W. Bush with 68 .... There’s still a second opening on the 3rd Circuit, and Sens. Toomey and Bob Casey should renominate Rebecca Haywood.
Letter to the Editor: Republican tactics block gender diversity on bench (Erie Times-News [PA], 07/21/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter — Pennsylvania: Sen. Pat Toomey blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Rendell for the 3rd Circuit, Rebecca Haywood, when Toomey refused to submit his home-state blue slip allowing for a judicial hearing for Haywood. For nearly one year, Haywood, an African American and highly qualified assistant U.S. attorney from western Pennsylvania, waited for the opportunity to have a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Haywood’s nomination ultimately expired in January, and the 3rd Circuit continues to lack gender diversity and the perspective of an African-American woman on its bench.... I’m sure Toomey will vote the party line and support the current nomination of the new nominee, University of Pennsylvania criminal law professor Stephanos Bibas, to fill the seat that rightfully belongs to Haywood. There’s still a second opening on the 3rd Circuit. Sens. Toomey and Bob Casey should renominate Haywood.
The one area where Trump has been wildly successful (Washington Post, 07/20/17)
Ronald A. Klain: while President Trump is incompetent at countless aspects of his job, he is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers.... rump’s picks are astoundingly young.... How conservative are Trump’s picks? Dubbed “polemicists in robes” in a headline on a piece by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, Trump’s nominees are strikingly . . . Trumpian. One Trump nominee blogged that Kennedy was a “judicial prostitute” for trying to find a middle ground on the court, and said that he “strongly disagree[d]” with the court’s decision striking down prosecution of gay people under sodomy laws. Another equated the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, upholding a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, to the court’s 19th-century Dred Scott finding that black people could not be U.S. citizens. Another advocated an Alabama law that denied counsel to death-row inmates.... Republican leaders are threatening to curtail “blue slip” rights that allow senators to block unacceptable home-state nominees; Trump is nominating candidates before they are reviewed by the American Bar Association; Judiciary Committee Republicans are arguing that nominees’ writings, legal representations and public statements are irrelevant to confirmation. Democrats should oppose these changes in the process .... Second, Democrats need to overcome their historic unease about working closely with progressive legal groups.
Letter: Federal Court gender imbalance continues in Pennsylvania (Lebanon Daily News [PA], 07/19/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter – PA: Senator Toomey blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Judge Rendell for the 3rd Circuit, Rebecca Haywood, when Toomey refused to submit his home-state blue slip allowing for a judicial hearing for Haywood. For nearly one year, Haywood, an African-American and highly-qualified Assistant U.S. Attorney from Western PA, waited ... I’m sure Senator Toomey will vote the party line and support the current nomination of the Heritage-Foundation-approved nominee, University of Pennsylvania criminal law professor Stephanos Bibas, to fill the seat that rightfully belongs to Rebecca Haywood. And with Bibas’ nomination, the Third Circuit in Pennsylvania will continue to rank among the worst gender-balanced Circuit Court of Appeals in the nation. There's still a second opening on the 3rd Circuit - Senators Toomey and Casey should renominate Rebecca Haywood.
Casey, Toomey need to right the gender and racial imbalance on Pa.'s 3rd Circuit Appeals Court: Opinion (PennLive [PA], 07/18/17)
Guest Editorial By Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter - PA: the Trump administration decided to stay the course and nominate another white man for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals seat, a seat soon to be vacated due to the retirement of former Pennsylvania first lady, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell.
Even with Rendell on the bench, Pennsylvania has the second worst gender imbalance of all the federal courts in the nation at 17 percent.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., blocked former President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Judge Rendell for the 3rd Circuit, Rebecca Haywood, when Toomey refused to submit his home-state blue slip allowing for a judicial hearing for Haywood.
For nearly a year, Haywood, an African-American and highly-qualified Assistant U.S. Attorney from western Pennsylvania, waited .... Haywood's confirmation would have only been the 21st federal court confirmation in Obama's last two years of his presidency, compared to Reagan with 83, Clinton with 72 and G.W. Bush with 68 ... There's still a second opening on the 3rd Circuit - Toomey and and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., should re-nominate Rebecca Haywood.
Pa. needs more diversity in federal appeals courts | Letter (Express-Times [PA], 07/18/17)
Kadida Kenner, Why Courts Matter-PA: Last month the Trump administration nominates another white man for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals seat, a seat soon to be vacated by the retirement of Judge Marjorie Rendell. Even with Rendell on the bench, Pennsylvania has the second worst gender imbalance of all federal courts at 17 percent.
Sen. Pat Toomey blocked President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Rendell for the Third Circuit, Rebecca Haywood. For nearly a year, Haywood, an African-American and highly-qualified assistant U.S. Attorney from western Pennsylvania, waited for the opportunity for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. ... Haywood's confirmation would have only been the 21st federal court confirmation in Obama's last two years of his presidency, compared to Ronald Reagan with 83, Bill Clinton with 72 and George Bush with 68 confirmations during their final two years. Because of obstruction by Senate Republicans, there are more than 120 vacancies on our federal court benches.... There's a second opening on the Third Circuit. Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey should renominate Rebecca Haywood.
Your view: Renominate Obama pick for Third Circuit (Times Leader [PA] , 07/18/17)
Kadida Kenner: the Trump administration decided to stay the course and nominate another white man for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, a seat soon to be vacated due to the retirement of former Pennsylvania first lady, Marjorie Rendell.
Even with Rendell on the bench, Pennsylvania has the second-worst gender imbalance of all the federal courts in the nation at 17 percent.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Rendell, Rebecca Haywood, when Toomey refused to submit his home-state blue slip, allowing for a judicial hearing for Haywood.
For nearly a year, Haywood, an African-American and highly qualified assistant U.S. attorney from western Pennsylvania, waited for the opportunity to have a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing .... There’s still a second opening on the Third Circuit. Toomey and Casey should renominate Rebecca Haywood.
Trump nominates hyper-partisan conservative activist to NC federal court vacancy: Why this is not “business as usual” and should not be condoned (NC Policy Watch, 07/18/17)
Rob Schofield: the GOP-dominated Senate is moving quickly to approve a bevy of new hardliners – including a conservative blogger from Kentucky named John K. Bush who authored scores of offensive posts under a pseudonym before Trump saw fit to nominate him to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.... Last week, the conservative courts putsch reached North Carolina when Trump nominated a right-wing activist lawyer named Thomas Farr to fill a seat on U.S. District Court for the Eastern District – the oldest vacancy in the federal system. As readers will no doubt recall, the Eastern District seat has stood vacant for more than a decade – including the entire Obama presidency – thanks to Senator Richard Burr’s stubborn refusal to allow either of President Obama’s two nominees to receive a hearing. ... Unlike both of the individuals advanced by President Obama (federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker and veteran state court judge Patricia Timmons-Goodson) Thomas Farr is not an experienced public servant. Rather, he is a lifelong partisan activist who has spent four decades advancing the hard right agenda.... the hard and striking reality that:
a) Farr is yet another white male being nominated in an region that has never, in the entire history of the nation, been served by a federal judge of color (both May-Parker and Timmons-Goodson are African-American),
b) the Eastern District includes all of the counties in the state that are greater than 50% African-American in population and has the greatest percentage of African-Americans of any region in the state, and
c) Farr has dedicated big chunks of his career to abetting controversial conservative efforts with respect to voting rights of African-Americans,
Blue Slips: Safeguard or Relic for Federal Judicial Appointments? (Nonprofit Quarterly, 07/18/17)
Carole Levine: The makeup of the Senate almost ensures that nominees who are voted out of the Judiciary Committee will receive the needed 51 votes for approval in the Senate, especially since the filibuster is no longer an option. But if blue slips are honored by Grassley, they could stop a nominee from advancing to a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.... The practice of using blue slips to halt a nomination is, perhaps, now more important than ever before.
Renominate Gallagher for the District of Maryland (Washington Post, 07/11/17)
Carl Tobias: In September 2015, then-President Barack Obama nominated Stephanie Gallagher, a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court of Maryland since 2011, to a vacancy on this court. Gallagher is an exceptionally qualified, moderate nominee whom Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both Democrats, powerfully supported. In May 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Gallagher without dissent.
Nonetheless, her nomination languished on the floor until Jan. 3 when her nomination expired, a result attributable to GOP obstruction in refusing to grant her a final debate and vote. Because Gallagher is an experienced, mainstream nominee and the District of Maryland requires all of its judges, President Trump must swiftly renominate and the Senate should promptly confirm the jurist.... Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who was elected in November after Mikulski’s retirement, should urge Trump to swiftly nominate Gallagher again, just as the chief executive recently renominated Judge David Nye and Dean Scott Palk, well qualified, mainstream Obama nominees who had enjoyed 2016 panel approval similar to Gallagher.
Blue Slips Become Issue in Senate (Politics PA, 07/11/17)
Paul Engelkemier: Update: Sources tell PoliticsPA that Republicans have misrepresented Casey’s actions. They say that Casey only received the paperwork for his blue slip about Bibas’ nomination this morning.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party responded to the claims from Republicans.
“Before launching these absurd attacks, Republicans should get their basic facts straight. Mr. Bibas’ paperwork was received by the Senate Judiciary Committee late last night and only forwarded on to Senator Casey’s office this morning — around the same the GOP were drafting their statements claiming obstruction. Senator Casey has a strong bipartisan record of working to confirm judicial nominees from both Republican and Democratic presidents and will continue to evaluate candidates as the administration puts their names forward,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele said in an email.
Casey reportedly blocking Bibas nomination [update: but apparently he isn’t] (CA3blog, 07/11/17)
Matthew Stiegler: Paul Engelkemier reports at PoliticsPA that PA Senator Bob Casey is withholding his blue slip on the Third Circuit nomination of Stephanos Bibas. ... UPDATE: Oops: PoliticsPA has now updated its post: "Sources tell PoliticsPA that Republicans have misrepresented Casey’s actions. They say that Casey only received the paperwork for his blue slip about Bibas’ nomination this morning." ... If the spokesman’s facts are correct, then the GOP was trying to pin the blame on Casey for a hold-up caused by the Trump administration itself!
Justice Joan L. Larsen – Nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Vetting Room, 07/07/17)
Harsh Voruganti: For critics of Larsen’s nomination, the best argument is procedural. In nominating Larsen, the Trump Administration ignored decades of precedent and failed to consult with Michigan senators. As such, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters are well within their rights to refuse to return blue slips and demand that the Administration engage in good faith consultations. ...
Larsen’s expansive views on presidential power are also likely to raise concerns among senators. Her 2006 op-ed, and her statement that the president could claim to protect the nation by violating the law would raise concerns among those who favor a limited executive. Additionally, with the emoluments clause suits proceeding against President Trump, senators may also raise Larsen’s writings on the related incompatibility clause. Furthermore, some senators may raise Larsen’s votes in Yono and Hecht to suggest that she is biased against civil plaintiffs.
Linda Geller-Schwartz: Donald Trump should act on Florida’s bipartisan support for judicial nominees (Florida Politics, 06/27/17)
Guest author: Trump has an opportunity to get something meaningful done quickly and in a bipartisan fashion for Floridians. He can act on an appeal from our two Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.
These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate 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 (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.
Sens. Nelson 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,”
To Ram Through Judges, GOP Senators Consider Yielding Power to Trump White House: The Republicans turning the Senate into the House, where the majority rules, are undoing the power of their own institution. (Daily Beast, 06/26/17)
Eleanor Clift: No Obama district or circuit court nominee in eight years even got a hearing before the Judiciary Committee unless both home-state senators returned blue slips saying “yea.”... Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee ... called the elimination of the blue slip “essentially a move to end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees, allowing nominees to be hand-picked by right-wing groups.”... In Pennsylvania, a vacancy has been open on the Third Circuit since July 2015 after the White House could not reach agreement with Republican Senator Pat Toomey on an acceptable candidate.... A Republican talking point claims that Democrats would do it if they had the chance, prompting Feinstein to point out that Democrats never waived the tradition even when they had the power.... President Obama left 17 district and circuit court nominations on the table, stalled by the refusal of Republican senators to return their blue slips. Of those 17, only one was a white man .... Among the justices now before the Senate, four are vying for seats that Republican senators used blue slips to hold open for an unconscionably long time, years in some cases. Former Alabama Solicitor General Kevin Newsom, who had a hearing before the Senate last week, is up for a seat on the 11th circuit only because Obama’s nominee, Judge Abdul Kallon, never had his blue slip returned by then Republican Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby. Born in Sierra Leone, Kallon was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the District court, and would have been the first African American nominated to the 11th circuit from Alabama.... why the Republicans might be bluffing on blue slips.... Why would any senator give up such undisputed power to this president, or any president for that matter?
Editorial, The Post's View Opinion Trump makes a smart nomination — but snubs D.C. in the process (Washington Post, 06/24/17)
"[W]e must lament how the District’s congressional representative has been completely frozen out of the process that settled on Ms. Liu. It was another reminder that D.C. residents, U.S. citizens who pay taxes and go to war for their country, are denied the vital say in their government that is enjoyed by residents of states. The District has no senators who can exercise their prerogative under the “blue slip” process of the Senate Judiciary Committee that requires senators to sign off on nominees for federal district court judges and U.S. attorney offices before they are considered. So previous presidents of both parties carved out a role for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D): Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama allowed her to recommend officials in the same manner as Democratic senators, and Republican President George W. Bush extended her the courtesy of being consulted, informing her of the candidate before nomination and soliciting her opinion. This time Ms. Norton, her spokesman told us, was informed of the nomination only shortly before it was made public."
Donald Trump Is In The Perfect Position To Dramatically Remake The Courts: With 100+ judicial vacancies and a Senate eager to fill them, conservatives are salivating. (Huffington Post, 06/22/17)
By Jennifer Bendery, Alissa Scheller: the main reason is Republicans’ years-long strategy of denying votes to Obama’s court picks. They refused to recommend judicial nominees, filibustered others, used procedural rules to drag out the confirmation process and, by Obama’s final year, blocked nominees they had recommended just to prevent him from filling more seats.... Trump nominated [John] Bush, 52, last month to a lifetime post on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Progressive groups are vowing to fight his confirmation given some of his past remarks, which include comparing abortion to slavery and referring to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” Bush has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted. Damien Schiff, also a member of The Federalist Society, is Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. ... He came under fire for calling Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute” on a blog several years ago. He has also criticized efforts to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students, referring to messages of equality as “teaching ‘gayness’ in schools,” and has argued that states should be allowed to criminalize “consensual sodomy.”... Blue slips are more of a committee tradition than a hard rule, but chairmen typically uphold it. Grassley’s predecessor, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), stuck by the practice for years when he was chairman ― even when Republicans routinely abused it to block Obama’s nominees. He suspects Grassley will abide by the tradition, too.
“Sen. Grassley made it very clear that he appreciated what I did when there was a Republican president and Democratic president, applying the blue slips,” Leahy told HuffPost.
“He told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman. And I take him at his word,” he added. “I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never broken his word to me.”
The Most Important Senate Hearing You Didn’t Hear Anything About This Week: It’s always a bad sign when a judicial nominee has to begin his hearing with an apology. (Huffington Post, 06/15/17)
Sammie Moshenberg: Kevin Newsom appeared thanks to the fact that Alabama senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby refused to return their blue slips, signing off on President Obama’s nominee, Judge Abdul Kallon who would have been the first African-American to sit on the 11th Circuit from Alabama.... John K. Bush attracted most of what questions could be squeezed in during the single round of five-minutes per senator.... Sen. Franken hammered Bush on his reliance on racist fake-news sources. Bush refused to answer why he used such a widely discredited source. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), one of the more conservative committee members, humphed that he was not “impressed” by his blogs.... Damien Schiff from the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) got his turn.... Schiff had called Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute,” a remark that was universally decried and certainly raised the question about his legal temperament. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) observed that if an Obama nominee had insulted Justice Kennedy that way, “the other side’s hair would be on fire!”
A staff attorney at the Koch Brothers-funded Pacific Legal Foundation which is devoted to undoing the ‘regulatory state’ established by the New Deal, Schiff shares the PLF’s animosity towards environmentalists, the EPA, OSHA, labor unions, and any campaign finance laws (a partial list).... Senator Franken was openly incredulous at Schiff’s piece “Teaching Gayness in Public Schools” which excoriates anti-bullying curricula.
Trump’s Judicial Picks Are Keeping Republicans Happy—and Quiet: In a rare show of competency, he's tapped five times as many judges as Obama had at this point—and conservatives are delighted. (The New Republic, 06/09/17)
David Dayen: Trump was blessed—thanks mostly to a virtual freeze on judicial confirmations in the last two years of the Obama presidency—with more opportunities than Obama. ... Republicans see appointing ridigly conservative judges as a central part of their policy strategy. Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, used judicial nominations as an opportunity for bipartisan comity.... Under Obama, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy honored the blue-slip tradition, and Republicans predictably invoked the privilege, making it impossible to nominate judges to a state with a Republican senator. Under Trump, the GOP has already talked about eliminating the blue slip rule for the circuit courts, or even doing away with it altogether. ... If Republicans change the rule, it would be all too typical. When Republicans hold the Senate and want a president to get judges through, they relax blue-slip rules. When the president is a Democrat, they tighten them. Democrats have adhered to blue-slip traditions regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.
The Consultation Double-Standard (Vetting Room, 06/09/17)
Harsh Voruganti: Let’s compare excerpts from the Senate Judiciary Questionnaires of ... judicial nominees: ... The contrast is stark. Compared to the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration has engaged in no pre-nomination consultation with Democratic Senators, instead cutting them out of the process. Now, Senate Republicans are debating whether to support their Democratic colleagues on this issue, or to cut off one of their only avenues for recourse: the blue slip.... On March 2, 2009, shortly after President Obama had been sworn into office with a large Democratic Senate majority, all 41 members of the Senate Republican conference sent him a letter with a clear missive: consult Republican home-state senators on nominees, or face a filibuster.... To his credit, President Obama worked assiduously to engage Republican Senators on judicial nominees, allowing them to name circuit and district court candidates from their states, and refusing to nominate judges when he could not reach an agreement with home-state senators. For his part, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) backed up his Republican colleagues by refusing to move forward with any nominee who did not have positive blue slips returned from both home-state senators, regardless of their party.
In the six years that President Obama and Chairman Leahy served together, two circuit and seven district court nominees were blocked based on senatorial courtesy and blue slips .... When Republicans took over the Senate majority in 2014, new Chairman Chuck Grassley continued to strictly enforce senatorial courtesy and blue slips. During the last two years of the Obama Administration, blue slip use by Republicans ramped up, and the following nominees were blocked .... Tradition and principles aside, there are many practical reasons for keeping the blue slip.... While Senate Republicans may be able to muscle through a judge being blocked only based on ideology, it is hard to see them pushing a judge whose nomination was made with no consultation whatsoever.
In other words, if the Trump Administration wants to see these nominees move, they’d do well to bring home state Democrats on board.
EDITORIAL: When not to roll over the opposition: The Senate should think twice about eliminating the 'blue slip. (Washington Times, 06/08/17)
"[N]othing is permanent, and in politics not even very long-lasting.
Republicans should take the lesson to heart. ... A senator vetoes a nominee by returning a blue slip to the Judiciary Committee, signaling objection. ... The Democrats abided by the blue-slip tradition during the Obama years, enabling Republicans to kill some of Mr. Obama’s more extreme liberal nominees. Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, on becoming the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in April 2015, wrote in op-ed essay in the Des Moines Register that “I appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it.”... As sure as the wind blows, Democrats will one day reclaim control of both the presidency and the Senate, and when that happens the blue slips will look attractive to Republicans, after all. The wheel that goes around comes around."
Counterpoint: Stras nomination for federal appeals court must be blocked: The Minnesota Supreme Court justice has the track record of a conservative ideologue. (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 06/08/17)
Beth Gendler, National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota: the record of Justice David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court indicates he would be neither independent nor fair-minded if confirmed to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals .... Stras is clearly in the mold of an ultra-right-wing conservative, and his nomination by President Trump must be blocked.... It can only be described as profoundly disturbing that Stras would label school integration “contentious” more than 50 years after Brown vs. Board of Education .... From the bench, Stras has issued a number of highly questionable legal opinions. ... he already has compiled an inescapable paper trail. It is that of a judge driven by conservative ideology and falling short of judicial independence and evenhandedness. For all of these reasons, we urge Minnesota’s U.S. senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, to oppose this nomination.
‘TRIPLE THREAT’ Trump’s Terrible Judicial Trifecta: Passing on alt-right conspiracies. Railing about ‘teaching gayness.’ Arguing for leniency to sentence minors to death. And these three nominees are expected to be confirmed easily. (Daily Beast, 06/07/17)
Eleanor Clift: if there were a 60-vote threshold, they wouldn’t stand a prayer’s chance of getting a lifetime appointment to the Sixth or Eleventh Circuit, or in the case of 38-year-old Damien Schiff, a 15-year appointment to the Court of Federal Claims, positioning him for the Ninth Circuit.... Louisville lawyer Bush, slated for the Sixth Circuit, is the most problematic. ... Schiff called Kennedy “a judicial prostitute” for “selling his vote as it were to four other Justices ... Schiff has called Earth Day “a threat to individual liberty and property rights,” and blames environmental regulations for contributing to California’s drought. He favors selling off public lands and once suggested Yosemite be turned over to Disney.... Alabama’s Kevin Newsom ... is positioned for a lifetime appointment on the Eleventh Circuit is what rankles Democrats. The vacancy occurred in 2013, and in February 2016 Obama nominated U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon from Birmingham to fill the seat. He would have been the first African-American from Alabama to sit on the Eleventh Circuit. He never got a hearing. Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now attorney general, never returned the blue slip that would have facilitated Kallon’s confirmation.
Will Grassley Rubber Stamp Trump Nominees? (Iowa Labor News, 05/30/17)
"Senator Chuck Grassley has suggested in recent weeks that as Chair of the Judiciary Committee he may give more deference to blue-slips when it comes to district court nominations than circuit court nominations, inaccurately claiming that this has “historically” happened. Ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has requested that the blue-slip process continue, with home-state Senators approving judicial nominees. Feinstein has further explained that blue-slips were used consistently for both district and circuit court nominees throughout the Obama administration under Democratic and Republican leadership.
The blue-slip process that allows home state Senators input and approval on judicial nominees is critical, as Senator Grassley has stated many times in the past (quoted below)."
Recalibrating Judicial Renominations in the Trump Administration (Washington and Lee Law Review, 05/30/17)
Prof. Carl Tobias: Republican obstruction meant that the upper chamber approved only twenty jurists during the whole 114th Congress, leaving 105 unfilled positions and fifty-one expired nominations upon its end. ... Several persuasive reasons can support renominating many of the accomplished, mainstream candidates whose nominations did expire in early January. First, renomination would preserve scarce time, money, and energy, which must be devoted to restarting the nomination process. For instance, the
twenty district court candidates already have American Bar Association (ABA) evaluations with ratings, Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) background checks and committee investigations, hearings, and voice vote approvals without dissents, so that nearly all of the picks will only require chamber debates, when merited, and floor ballots.... President Obama correspondingly selected the twenty fine, mainstream trial level nominees principally for their intelligence, diligence, ethics, independence, and balanced judicial
temperament, especially their capability to manage and resolve substantial caseloads, rather than ideology.33 GOP lawmakers
concomitantly suggested and powerfully supported a majority of the nominees. Even the three very competent, moderate
appellate designees were nominated mainly for reasons divorced from ideology, phenomena witnessed in bipartisan support for their committee approval. Renomination would correspondingly diversify the federal
judiciary, because five of the twenty renominees will bring ethnic diversity while ten comprise women and two in three circuit
renominees would provide ethnic or gender diversity.... [President Trump] can seat many jurists by renominating numerous impressive, mainstream Obama nominees, whose efficient appointments will permit the courts to better deliver justice.
The Blue-Slip Rule Is On Its Last Legs (Mother Jones, 05/26/17)
Kevin Drum: Were Republicans snickering in private for six years because Democrats continued to be Boy Scouts during the Obama presidency, respecting the blue-slip rule despite blanket Republican opposition of the kind that Republicans now say will prompt them to kill it? Probably. Was it the right thing to do anyway? I guess I'm still unsure. But it sure doesn't look like it.... both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama simply gave up nominating judges in states where there were any Republican senators. They would object as a matter of course and their objections would be honored. George Bush, by contrast, continued nominating judges everywhere.
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.