Sen. Durbin Floor Statement [opposing Thapar Circuit Court nomination]
(Democrat - Illinois)
"Given Judge Thapar's evasiveness on questions about his views, I am
left to judge him on his record, such as his troubling decision in the
Winter case, and the fact that the Federalist Society and Heritage
Foundation handpicked him for their judicial wish list.
I need more reassurance than that to support a nominee for a lifetime
appointment on the Federal court of appeals. I will oppose his
[Sen. Nelson] Rubio, Nelson Introduce Bill Authorizing Additional Florida Judgeships
(Democrat - Florida)
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years.... “Florida’s federal courts are some of the busiest in the country,” said Nelson. “This bill will help provide Floridians with better access to our legal system.”
Sens. Rubio, Nelson Introduce Bill Authorizing Additional Florida Judgeships
(Republican - Florida)
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years.
“The overwhelming caseload facing our judges is an undue burden for both our judicial system and the people of Florida,” said Rubio. “By following the recommendations of the Judicial Conference in authorizing these judgeships, we can help ensure a more efficient judicial system. I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Nelson and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to authorize these important judgeships for Florida as it will have short and long term benefits for our judges and residents.”
Sen. Leahy Congressional Record Statement on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont)
[S3172-33] "During my nearly 20 years as either chairman or ranking member of the
Judiciary Committee, I encouraged Republicans and Democrats to work
with President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama to find qualified, consensus nominees, and I protected the rights of Senators in both parties. As Ranking Member Feinstein noted in a memo that was circulated yesterday, no judicial nomination made by the last three
Presidents was confirmed without the support of both home State Senators. I cannot recall a nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home State Senator. The blue slip is not a partisan
issue; it is about constitutional checks and balances and the Senate's role in protecting the independence of our Federal judiciary. I encourage President Trump to follow the example of his predecessors from both parties and work with us to find consensus nominees to ensure that our Federal courts remain the envy of the rest of the world."
Sen. Whitehouse [on home-state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Rhode Island)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general who is [a member] of the Judiciary Committee, said he doubts that Grassley “would want to dismantle that long-standing Senate prerogative just to cater to the extremist impulses of this particular administration.” Given that appellate court seats are historically connected to individual states, “they should continue to be able to make recommendations,” Whitehouse said. “I think that would be a really dumb mistake to make just to appease the far right because it would have lasting consequences that would diminish the Senate both for Republican and Democrat senators.”
Sen. Franken on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Minnesota)
“It’s customary that the blue-slip process applies equally to both district and circuit court nominees — and Republicans certainly operated that way during the Obama administration,” Franken said, adding, “The committee should continue this custom and not change it simply because there’s a new president in the White House.”
Sen. Warren Floor Statement [opposing Thapar Sixth Circuit nomination]
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
[S3128-29] "I rise to oppose the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to serve as a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.... His nomination comes on the heels of the nomination of now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, an ultraconservative who could not earn enough support to be confirmed under Senate's normal rules, a judge so radical, so controversial that Senate Republicans had to change the Senate rules and lower the vote threshold to force his nomination through the Senate.
Now the Senate is poised to vote on a judge cut from the same cloth.
Like Justice Gorsuch, Judge Thapar made the list of 21 acceptable
judges that far-right groups drew up and handed to President Trump--
judges who would tilt the scales of justice in favor of the rich and
the powerful.... For years, billionaire-funded, rightwing groups have worked
hand in hand with Republicans to ensure that our courts advance the
interests of the wealthy and powerful over the rights of everyone else.
They abused the filibuster to stop fair, mainstream judges from filling
vacancies on Federal courts, they slowed the judicial nominations
process to a crawl, and they threw the Constitution and Senate
precedent out the window by refusing to consider President Obama's
Supreme Court nominee. ...There are many reasons to oppose Judge Thapar's nomination to the
Sixth Circuit, from his decisions making it harder for working
Americans to get access to the judicial system to his support for
sentencing policies that don't make us safer but that exacerbate the
problem of mass incarceration. There is a lot to object to, but I want
to highlight one area that should concern every person who thinks
government should work for all of us; that is, Judge Thapar's stance on
money in politics.... In his decision, Judge Thapar said: ``There is simply
no difference between `saying' that one supports an organization by
using words and `saying' that one supports an organization by donating
money.'' ... As the Sixth Circuit reminded Judge
Thapar when it reversed his decision on donations, even the Supreme
Court has refused to treat monetary donations as equivalent to direct
Sen. Feinstein: Setting the record straight on judicial nominees and blue slip
(Democrat - California)
"Some Senate Republicans have recently suggested that the so-called “blue slip” for judicial nominees is less important for circuit court nominations than district court nominations. (The blue slip is a process where both senators must sign off on judicial nominations in their own state.)
In fact, no Obama administration district or circuit court nominee received a Judiciary Committee hearing unless both home-state senators approved of the nominee by returning their blue slips.
The Senate is set to vote on the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to fill a nearly 1,400-day vacancy on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Thapar’s nomination by President Trump was only possible because the blue slip was always honored for circuit court nominees during the Obama administration.
President Obama last year nominated Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes to this Sixth Circuit vacancy. She received a unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association. However, Judge Tabor Hughes never received a hearing in the Judiciary Committee because both Kentucky senators did not return their blue slips.... Senate Democrats did not abandon the blue slip during the Obama administration even though the Senate Judiciary Committee was controlled by Democrats for six of the eight years.
For example, Judiciary Committee Democrats did not advance Obama nominees in any of the following situations:
Only one home-state senator returned the blue slip.
Senators initially returned blue slips but later rescinded them.
Judicial vacancies were left open for years.
Senators recommended a nominee to the White House for a district court vacancy, but refused to return a blue slip for that same nominee when nominated to a circuit court vacancy.
The blue slip serves an important purpose by incentivizing meaningful consultation and cooperation between the White House and Senate on judicial nominees.
Eliminating the blue slip is 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. During the administrations of President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, no circuit court or district court nominees were confirmed without blue slips from both home-state senators.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote in a 2014 op-ed, “I continued this blue slip tradition. Not a single district court nominee received a committee hearing, and not one appeals court nominee was confirmed without the support of their home-state senators…”"
Former Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont)
David Carle, a spokesman for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), said no judicial nominee – district or circuit court – received a hearing without first receiving both home state senators' positive blue slips while Leahy was the committee chair. “They loved the blue-slip rule when it was President Obama and Chuck Grassley to his credit said I enforced it with a Democratic president, he’s going to enforce it with Republican president, so we’ll have the blue-slip rule,” Leahy told The Hill. Leahy was citing a 2015 op-ed in The Des Moines Register by Grassley. “I appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it,” he wrote. Leahy said he’s going to take Grassley for his word. “He knew that I enforced it and he said he would enforce it,” he said.
Sen. Franken on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Minnesota)
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) ... claims the process applies equally to both district and circuit court nominees “and Republicans certainly operated that way during the Obama administration.” “In my view, the blue slip plays an important role in ensuring that the Senate is able to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide ‘advice and consent,’” he said. “The Committee should continue this custom and not change it simply because there’s a new president in the White House.”
Sen. Cornyn forgets Obama's Nourse, Selby & Haywood Circuit nominations blocked by single Senator blue slips
(Republican - Texas)
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate ... “I think there’s a difference between the blue-slip application at the district court level where the court is contained wholly within a state as opposed to a circuit court, which covers multiple states,” he said. “The idea that an individual senator could veto in effect a nominee at the circuit court level is really unprecedented and I think needs to be carefully looked at.”
Sen. McConnell: Senate Judiciary Committee Supports Judge Thapar’s Nomination; Now Goes to Full Senate
(Republican - Kentucky)
“I join my fellow Kentuckians in congratulating Judge Amul Thapar for being approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today. He is now one step closer to being confirmed as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Thapar has a distinguished record of public service. He is a well-qualified jurist, and a man of integrity, who will bring a top legal mind to serve on the Sixth Circuit. I look forward to the full Senate confirming this well-respected Kentuckian.”
Sen. Stabenow on home-state Senator blue slip review of Joan Larsen Circuit Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan)
Stabenow hasn’t made a decision on her blue slip and plans to review Justice Larson’s record, as does her colleague Sen. Gary C. Peters, Michigan Democrat. “As we move forward in the process, I will continue to listen to public input and consult with Michigan’s legal community to ensure that our state is served by highly qualified, fair and impartial judges that put the people of Michigan first,”
Sen. Grassley on blue slip rule [no exceptions for 8 years of Obama judges]
(Republican - Iowa)
“I think the blue slip is more respected for district court judges historically than it has been for circuit,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley said Thursday in an interview with Roll Call and the Associated Press for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program.
The Judiciary Committee’s process has generally required senators to return a blue slip of paper consenting to hearings and markups of nominees for federal judgeships from their home states, but the Republican from Iowa argues that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
“It’s much more a White House decision on circuit judges than the district court judges,” Grassley said. “I mean this is going to be an individual case-by-case decision, but it leads me to say that there’s going to have to be a less strict use or obligation to the blue slip policy for circuit, because that’s the way it’s been.”... Grassley cited as an example of the greater deference to the White House an instance in the 1980s, when he and Sen. Roger Jepsen had made an appeals court recommendation to the Reagan administration that was ultimately dismissed. Speaking also to nominations at the district court level, Grassley said he would consider the extent of the conversations between President Donald Trump’s White House and Democratic senators.
“I think it’s very important that the White House work very closely with senators, both Republican and Democrat. But particularly those states where they have two Democratic senators, and I think that a big factor for me is the extent to which those Democratic senators make sure that they have adequate communication with the White House,” Grassley said.
Sen. Cotton on home-state Senator blue slips
(Republican - Arkansas)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that if Democrats start abusing the so-called blue slip rule, Republicans should consider dumping the policy, which allows a senator to block a judicial candidate from his or home state by simply not returning a blue slip to the Judiciary Committee.... “I think the blue slip tradition can be helpful if it encourages the White House to consult in advance with senators,” Cotton told Hewitt, an avowed opponent of the blue slip rule. “But we can’t allow Democratic senators to continue to obstruct this president’s agenda. If they’re just arbitrarily not returning blue slips, we have to consider changing that tradition to one of its past other forms.”... “Let’s be clear. It is not a rule. It is not written down in the Senate rules or the rules of the Senate Republican Conference,” Cotton said on Hewitt’s show. “And the tradition changes substantially based on the preferences and the views of the Senate Judiciary chairman.”
Sen. Shelby Applauds Nomination of Alabama’s Kevin Newsom to Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
(Republican - Alabama)
“Kevin Newsom is an exceptional choice for this high honor. I am confident that his strong principles will enable him to apply the law in a fair and just manner. President Trump has made the right decision in selecting Kevin to sit on the Eleventh Circuit, and I believe he will prove to be an asset to our nation’s judicial system as a federal judge.”
Congresswoman Norton: In Setback for D.C. Equality, Trump Nominates D.C. Federal Judge Without Consulting D.C.’s Only Federal Representative
(Democrat - District of Columbia)
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that, although she requested consultation, the Trump Administration has nominated Dabney Friedrich to the District Court for the District of Columbia without consulting Norton, which was the practice of the last Republican administration, under President George W. Bush. In March, Norton wrote President Trump asking for the courtesy of consultation on federal law enforcement officials nominated to serve the District of Columbia. Presidents Clinton and Obama extended Norton the courtesy to recommend these officials in the same manner as Democratic senators. Norton is still reviewing what is known of Friedrich’s nomination, but said that she had no information to question the nomination. She said that D.C.’s lack of representation in the Senate is particularly unfair for nominations of federal officials who serve the District, including judges .... Under Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), like his immediate predecessor and some prior chairmen, the committee has not considered nominees for federal judge, U.S. attorney, or U.S. Marshal unless both home-state senators, regardless of party, consent to the nominee moving forward. ... “Considering that the President and I are not in the same party, I did not request to recommend nominees, but instead asked for consultation courtesy, using the precedent under the Bush Administration, which informed me of the candidate before a nomination, solicited my opinion, and even gave me the courtesy of interviewing the candidates,” Norton said. “I never had occasion to differ on the president’s selection. District of Columbia residents have no representation in the U.S. Senate, but they pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the United States to support their country. They should not be denied a say on the federal officials nominated to serve them. I urge Trump officials to reconsider the process they used for this selection and give our residents a voice by consulting with me on future selections of federal officials who serve this city, as the Bush Administration did.”
Sen. Cornyn [on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees]
(Republican - Texas)
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who has 11 district court vacancies in his home state, along with two empty appellate court seats, called the blue slip an “equal opportunity irritant.” “When it’s an impediment, then people don’t like it. When it’s helpful, people like it,” Cornyn said. “What it does [is], it provokes a negotiation, which I don’t think is an altogether bad thing.”
Sen. Klobuchar on David Stras Eighth Circuit Nomination
(Democrat - Minnesota)
A spokesperson for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who along with Sen. Al Franken is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday that the senator "looks forward to meeting with the judge and reviewing his judicial record."
Sen. Durbin on President Trump judicial selections
(Democrat - Illinois)
“We know that there is a prized list now from [conservative] special interest groups and one of them is now on the Supreme Court,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said Monday, referring to recently-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. “If that’s the way the president is going to choose the leaders of the judiciary, we need to ask some probing questions about why these special interest groups believe these particular judges are the best choices.” Of the blue-slip powers, Durbin added: “As long as we have the authority, we’ll use it if necessary.”
Sen. Franken on lack of meaningful consultation on David Stras Eighth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Minnesota)
A spokesman for Franken said the senator was “not meaningfully” consulted and the White House declined the Minnesota senator’s recommendations to fill the vacancy at the St. Louis-based appeals court. A separate Senate Democratic aide said the Trump administration notified, rather than consulted, the senators, declining to ask for input before announcing the nominee.
Lack of consultation on judicial nominees goes against traditional White House practice, say veterans of the nominations process.
“In the Obama administration, people would not return their blue slips simply because they felt they weren’t consulted efficiently,” said Christopher Kang, who served as deputy counsel to former President Barack Obama.
Kang, now the national director at the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, said 17 judicial nominees during Obama’s tenure were blocked because home-state senators declined to give approval, or return his or her blue slip to the Judiciary Committee.