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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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Senator Feinstein, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: Setting the record straight on judicial nominees and blue slip
(Democrat - California) 09/25/17
Editorial memo on history of the blue slip and consultation with home-state Senators on judicial nominees

Sen. Feinstein: Protect Senate Power on Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - California) 09/25/17
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. Wyden on Oregon bipartisan process of vetting federal judicial candidates
(Democrat - Oregon) 09/25/17
Sens. Wyden and Merkley have said they will fight Bounds’ confirmation because he was not vetted by a bipartisan committee. Through a spokesman, Wyden said Trump cut ahead of Oregon’s traditional vetting process – currently underway but not yet completed.... “The process has long been done by a committee of Oregonians that considers applicants from our state’s legal community,” Wyden’s spokesman Hank Stern said in an email. “That process is underway and Oregon’s senators have explained to the White House that this process is part of a long, bipartisan tradition of judicial nominees being thoroughly vetted by a committee of Oregonians in order both to ensure the highest quality candidate and to avoid any taint of nepotism and patronage in a lifetime judicial appointment.”

ICYMI: Sen. Coons defends Senate ‘blue slip’ process for reviewing judicial nominees
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/21/17
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended the Senate ‘blue slip’ process to Business Insider. "Judges are appointed with lifetime tenure, so it is critical that senators have the ability to secure judges for their home states that are qualified for their positions," Senator Coons told Business Insider. "This isn't a partisan issue, either — this allows Republican senators to prevent Democratic presidents from confirming unqualified or inappropriate judges for their home states, and vice versa. The blue slip process encourages bipartisanship, too, and it increases the chances of consensus candidates. Ending the blue slip process would diminish the ability of senators to provide input based on the local needs of their states, making it increasingly difficult for the Judiciary Committee to function in a bipartisan way."

Sen. Coons on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/20/17
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider that the blue slip process has historically been "followed by members of both parties" and "ensures senators are consulted regarding nominees for seats from their home states." "Judges are appointed with lifetime tenure, so it is critical that senators have the ability to secure judges for their home states that are qualified for their positions," Coons said. "This isn't a partisan issue, either — this allows Republican senators to prevent Democratic presidents from confirming unqualified or inappropriate judges for their home states, and vice versa," he continued. "The blue slip process encourages bipartisanship, too, and it increases the chances of consensus candidates. Ending the blue slip process would diminish the ability of senators to provide input based on the local needs of their states, making it increasingly difficult for the Judiciary Committee to function in a bipartisan way."

Sen. Schumer on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - New York) 09/20/17
“Now we have the circuit court, and the blue slip has always been recognized. I will be meeting with Senator McConnell, Senator Grassley, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, to make the case to hold the blue slips.”

Sen. Lee on home-state Senator blue slips
(Republican - Utah) 09/20/17
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider in a statement that the blue slip process "should be used to prompt consultation between the Senate and the White House," but that it "isn't an invitation to thwart the president's power to nominate."

Sen. Whitehouse on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 09/20/17
Pointing to past statements from McConnell and other Republicans, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Judiciary Committee member, told Business Insider in a statement that the practice "ensures that home-state senators and the people they represent can weigh in on the judges who will serve them." "Republicans, Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley among them, have taken advantage of this tradition for decades," Whitehouse said. "People who claim to be Senate institutionalists should not engage in wholesale destruction of Senate traditions just for immediate partisan advantage."

Sen. Grassley undecided on how to resolve ‘blue slip’ judicial holdups
(Republican - Iowa) 09/14/17
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley said Thursday he hasn’t decided whether to disregard the chamber’s blue slip tradition and push through one of President Trump’s appeals court picks over the objections of a home-state Democrat. “You need to ask me in a month,” he told The Washington Times.

Sen. Blumenthal on home-state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Connecticut) 09/14/17
“I have not detected any groundswell of support to do away with it,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Thursday.

Sens. Wyden & Merkley letter to White House Counsel
(Democrat - Oregon) 09/07/17
“As you are aware, in May we wrote you to explain Oregon’s long bipartisan tradition of working together to identify the most qualified candidates for judicial vacancies, ... “You have demonstrated that you were only interested in our input if we were willing to preapprove your preferred nominee... The judicial selection process is not a rubber stamp, and the insinuation that our offices were purposefully delaying the process is an indication of the partisanship with which you are pursing this nomination.”