Sen. Feinstein: Protect Senate Power on Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - California)
An editorial memo with additional background on the history of the blue slip is available here [Link] “The blue slip is a Senate tradition that allows both home-state senators to have a say in which judges will serve in their states. It has been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike for 100 years, but it’s now in jeopardy by Senate Republicans who want to pack federal courts with Trump nominees.
“Eliminating the blue slip would end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees and remove any incentive for the White House to choose mainstream candidates.... no judicial nominee has been confirmed without two blue slips in nearly 30 years, and fewer than five times in the last 100 years. Not a single Obama nominee received even a hearing in the Judiciary Committee, let alone a floor vote, without both blue slips having been returned.... the Obama White House didn’t just consult with Democratic Senators—it also consulted extensively with Republican senators. For example, Senators Hatch and Lee recommended Carolyn McHugh for the Tenth Circuit. Senators Isakson and Chambliss recommend Julie Carnes for the Eleventh Circuit. ... We’ve seen a troubling trend thus far in the Trump administration—candidates meeting only with Republican senators before they’re chosen.
“The result is a White House that refuses to consult with Democratic senators on judicial nominees, then accuses them of obstruction when they want to fully review the nominees’ records. And now, they are threatening to eliminate the blue slip."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee: Respect Prerogative of Home-State Senators; President Obama nominated Justice Hughes. Sens. McConnell and Paul did not return their blue slips, and Justice Hughes never received a hearing.
(Democrat - California)
Letter to the Editor: The editorial board completely discounts the history of the blue slip, which requires both home-state senators to sign off on judicial nominees from their state ("The Al Franken Standard," Sept. 13).
Here are the facts: In 2016 alone, President Obama's nominations of Judge Abdul Kallon for the 11th Circuit, Justice Myra Selby for the Seventh Circuit, Rebecca Haywood for the Third Circuit and Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes for the Sixth Circuit did not move forward because they didn't receive two blue slips.
Trump nominees have been confirmed to two of these vacancies, and nominees for the two other vacancies are pending.
Consider the specifics of the Sixth Circuit vacancy in Kentucky: In March 2016, after the vacancy had been open for almost 1,000 days, President Obama nominated Justice Hughes. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul did not return their blue slips, and Justice Hughes never received a hearing.
Their prerogative as home-state senators was honored, and the prerogative of home-state senators should continue to be honored.
The editorial board was silent when these highly qualified nominees were blocked ....
Sen. Feinstein Remarks on the blue slip process
(Democrat - California)
“The purpose of the blue slip is to encourage meaningful consultation between the White House and home state senators on nominees.
Already this year, Judge Amul Thapar was confirmed as a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals from Kentucky, and Kevin Newsom is awaiting confirmation to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals from Alabama. Both of these nominations were only possible because Chairman Grassley consistently honored the blue slip rule for circuit court nominees under President Obama.
President Obama had nominated other people to fill those Kentucky and Alabama vacancies, but the home state senators did not return blue slips for nine and ten months, respectively, and those nominations expired.
That is the prerogative of home state senators when it comes to blue slips, and it is a prerogative that Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy both honored as chairmen. Senators deserve all the time they need to review a nominee’s record and make a decision about the blue slip.”
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. 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. 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. McConnell Statement on Judge Thapar
(Republican - Kentucky)
“I applaud the President for announcing his intent to nominate my friend, Judge Amul Thapar, to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Throughout his already impressive career of public service, Amul has shown an incredible intellect and an unshakable dedication to the law. He has earned the respect of his colleagues, and I know that he will bring to the Sixth Circuit the same wisdom, fairness, and ability that he has shown on the District Court. President Trump made an outstanding choice and I look forward to the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Thapar.”