ICYMI: Sen. Coons defends Senate ‘blue slip’ process for reviewing judicial nominees
(Democrat - Delaware)
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. Whitehouse on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - Rhode Island)
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. Lee on home-state Senator blue slips
(Republican - Utah)
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. Schumer on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - New York)
“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. Coons on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - Delaware)
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. 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. Cornyn on home-state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Republican - Texas)
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said it could be reasonable to do away with the tradition “on a case by case basis.” Cornyn specifically pointed to Franken’s decision to block Straus not because of concerns about his qualifications for the job, but because of the legal theory to which he subscribes.
“I think it’s good to have consultation and for the White House to be required to work with senators of both parties on nominees, but where a senator admits that the nominee is qualified, but simply disagrees with the judge’s judicial philosophy I think that’s an inadequate reason to block him,” Cornyn told Courthouse News.
Sen. Grassley undecided on how to resolve ‘blue slip’ judicial holdups
(Republican - Iowa)
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. Grassley spokesman on blue slips
(Republican - Iowa)
“The blue slip consultation process typically grants the President greater deference on circuit court nominees than at the district level,” Taylor Foy, a Judiciary Committee spokesman for Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said in a statement.
But, he added, just because the blue slip process isn’t absolute for appeals court nominees, it doesn’t mean senators shouldn’t still be consulted.
“The blue slip process was always intended to ensure consultation, and Grassley fully expects senators to continue to abide by that tradition,” Foy said.
Sen. Markey on underrepresentation of women in our federal judiciary
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
“The underrepresentation of women in our federal judiciary is a longstanding problem that President Trump is ignoring with his slate of nominees," Senator Markey said in a statement. "Women and people of color bring unique perspectives on issues ranging from criminal justice to affirmative action to reproductive rights, and our federal judges and U.S. Attorneys should reflect that diversity.”
Sen. Schumer on home state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - New York)
With the conflict escalating, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has requested a meeting with Mr. McConnell and the top Republican and Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee to dissuade Republicans from weakening the blue slip. “Getting rid of the blue slip would be a mistake,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. He said he would argue to Mr. McConnell and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that since majority control of the Senate has been in flux in recent years, members of both parties should remember that they could find themselves back in the minority.
“Preserving some of the minority’s power in the Senate has broad support because every one of us knows we’re probably going to be in some of each,” Mr. Schumer said.
NM Sens. on judicial selection
(Democrat - New Mexico)
Several members of the delegation declined to comment last week on the candidates or on whether they have concerns about Levi’s New Mexico experience.
“The New Mexico delegation continues to work together to identify and recommend qualified New Mexicans for presidential appointments, as it did with the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal nominations,” said Sens. Udall and Martin Heinrich – both Democrats – and Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, in a joint statement.
Norton Criticizes Trump Administration for Continuing to Ignore D.C. on Judicial Nominations, Virginia Resident Nominated
(Democrat - District of Columbia)
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sharply criticized the Trump administration for its continued refusal to consult with her on nominations for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the administration today nominated Matthew Spencer Petersen, of Virginia, to serve as a judge. Norton will urge Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to question Petersen on whether he intends to reside in the District during his tenure, as she has done for previous Trump administration nominees.
“Seven months into his presidency, the Trump administration continues to ignore and disrespect District residents by refusing to consult with us on nominations,” Norton said. “We demand a say, like residents of states, on those who will serve in our jurisdiction.”
Sens. Wyden & Merkley letter to White House Counsel
(Democrat - Oregon)
“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.”
White House Vetting Del. Senators' Picks for District Court Seats
(Democrat - Delaware)
"All three emerged as finalists after a weeks-long review process spearheaded by Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware's senior senator, and Sen. Chris Coons, who sits on the powerful Judiciary Committee.... they managed to hold off a group of Delaware Republicans who were advancing their own list of candidates.... both senators said that the White House Counsel's Office was actively mulling their selections.
"We jointly interviewed these candidates, selected our recommendations, and then sent those recommendations on to the White House," Coons said in an emailed statement. "Our office has had discussions with White House Counsel Don McGahn, who invited our input, and his office indicated that our recommended candidates would be considered."... Carper and Coons had assembled a bipartisan judicial nominating commission, modeled off of Delaware's system for selecting candidates for state-level judgeships. According to sources, the panel reviewed between 10 and 20 candidates who had responded to Carper's calls for applications."
Sen. Franken to Oppose Nomination of Justice David Stras for Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: Senator Says Nominee’s Deeply Conservative Judicial Philosophy Raises Concerns about How He Would Approach Civil Rights & Equality, Suggests He Would Favor Powerful Corporations over Working Families
(Democrat - Minnesota)
"I had hoped that, in recognition of our different views, President Trump would work with me to identify a consensus candidate-a nominee whose experience demonstrates an ability to set aside rigid beliefs in favor of finding common ground. But rather than work together to select a nominee who is a judicial moderate, the White House had already settled on Justice Stras before first approaching me, and the president nominated him despite the concerns that I expressed.
"Justice Stras's professional background and record strongly suggest that, if confirmed, he would embrace the legacy of his role models and reliably rule in favor of powerful corporate interests over working people, and that he would place a high bar before plaintiffs seeking justice at work, at school, and at the ballot box. The president should be seeking out judges who bridge the issues that divide us, but I fear that Justice Stras's views and philosophy would lead him to reinforce those divisions and steer the already conservative Eighth Circuit even further to the right.
"It is for those reasons that, after careful consideration, I have decided to oppose his nomination and not to return a blue slip to the Committee."
Sen. Klobuchar Statement on Nomination of Justice Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Minnesota)
"While Justice Stras was not my choice for the 8th Circuit Court, it is my view that he deserves a hearing before the Senate.
“I am also concerned that this position could simply go to a less independent judge from another 8th Circuit state (Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota or South Dakota) since this is not a permanent Minnesota position.
“I also respect the fact that Senator Franken has an equal role to play here. Under Senate practice, both Senators from a judicial nominee's home state must allow that nominee to have a hearing. Like Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, I support the practice as it is a check and balance regardless of whether a state is represented by two Democrats, two Republicans or one Democrat and one Republican. The policy has resulted in decision-making for judges across party lines. This policy has held true throughout the entire Obama administration, including when Republicans ran the Senate and when Democrats ran the Senate. Changing this policy would have serious ramifications for judicial nominations in every state in the country. Given this important policy, and given Senator Franken's view that Justice Stras should not be allowed a hearing in the Senate, the White House will need to provide additional names for the 8th Circuit position."
Sen. Feinstein Statement on Importance of Blue Slips
(Democrat - California)
Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement reiterating that the Judiciary Committee should honor home-state senators’ decisions regarding blue slips for federal judicial nominees, including Senator Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) decision not to return a blue slip on David Stras, President Trump’s nominee to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals:
“It’s the prerogative of home-state senators to evaluate potential federal judicial nominees and determine whether or not they are mainstream and well-suited to hold these important positions of public trust, which have real-world consequences for their constituents.
“The purpose of the blue slip is to ensure consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees from their states. I expect the committee to honor Senator Franken’s decision not to return a blue slip, as was always done when Republican senators didn’t return blue slips on President Obama’s nominees.
“In 2016 alone, President Obama’s nominations of Abdul Kallon for the Eleventh Circuit, Justice Myra Selby for the Seventh Circuit, Rebecca Haywood for the Third Circuit and Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes for the Sixth Circuit didn’t move forward because they didn’t receive two blue slips.
“I trust that this refusal to sign a blue slip will be treated the same way. If a nominee does not receive blue slips from both senators, the committee should not move forward.”
Sen. Franken on nomination process and David Stras Eighth Cirucit nomination
(Democrat - Minnesota)
"We did not have meaningful consultation at all. Normally we are consulted about the choice. That’s the tradition, so if there’s any abuse here, it’s the Trump administration by saying this is who we are going with. Normally they would consult with the senators who would be part of the process of picking someone. There’s a reason for the blue slip and it’s basically like in this situation, a party controls the White House and the Senate, that they won’t load the court with very very conservative or very very liberal judges, so this creates some kind of balance. Justice Stras clerked with Justice Clarence Thomas, he said Clarence Thomas was his mentor. There are writings of his that suggest that he and from reports we’ve heard from students etc. that is very far to the right. He’s a nice guy. I talked to him. But I wasn’t assured. [Supreme Court Justice] Gorsuch was a nice guy, but you see how he’s ruling right now. The Eighth Circuit is pretty conservative right now. But I want to consider this. And I wasn’t terribly happy with the process. I think we’re going to have a decision very soon."
Sens. Warner, Kaine Now Accepting Applications for U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District
(Democrat - Virginia)
Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District to recommend nominations to the White House to replace retiring Judge Gerald Lee. An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the Members will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The Members will use those recommendations as they consider potential nominees to recommend to President Trump. The White House will then nominate an individual to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.
“U.S. District Judges are tasked with the solemn responsibility of upholding the law. They ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice in vitally important civil and criminal cases,” said the Senators. “As we begin the application process for this key position in Virginia’s Eastern District, we look forward to reviewing qualified candidates and selecting the right individuals.”
Sen. Tom Udall letter quoted in Court nominee’s lack of NM roots prompts concern
(Democrat - New Mexico)
Sen Tom Udall, D-N.M. and a former New Mexico attorney general, wrote a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn II in August, noting that a New Mexico background is crucial to wining his vote for confirmation.
“To gain my support, the president’s nominee must be a native New Mexican with a deep understanding of the legal issues that arise in the state, such as water rights, Indian law and public lands,” Udall wrote in a letter to McGahn on Aug. 9, before the White House had forwarded its list of potential nominees to the New Mexico congressional delegation.
Udall also noted in the letter that Browning “would be an excellent appellate court judge and I would accept his nomination contingent on a clean FBI background check and acceptable rating by the A.B.A (American Bar Association).”
Sen. Peters Returns Blue Slip for Justice Joan Larsen Nomination: Larsen Nominated to Serve on Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Michigan)
Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he has returned the “blue slip” for the nomination of Justice Joan Larsen of Michigan to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is Senate tradition for home state Senators to consent to the consideration of a nomination by the Judiciary Committee through the “blue slip” process.
“Federal judges make critical decisions that can directly impact the lives of Michiganders, and the Senate has an important constitutional responsibility to thoroughly review all nominees,” said Senator Peters. “I have returned the Senate 'blue slip,' and I look forward to learning more about Justice Larsen and her record as she continues through the Senate’s confirmation process. I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with Justice Larsen in person recently, and I will continue to do my due diligence and evaluate her qualifications and judicial approach along with my Senate colleagues.”
Senator Stabenow Returns Blue Slip for Nomination of Justice Joan Larsen to Serve on Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Michigan)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced that she has returned the blue slip for Justice Joan Larsen’s nomination to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments,” said Senator Stabenow. “As part of my constitutional duty, I have consulted with Michigan’s legal community, reviewed Justice Larson’s background and qualifications and most recently, personally met with her. My meeting with Justice Larson was productive. I have returned the Senate’s procedural “blue slip” which will allow the nomination process to move forward with the Senate Judiciary Committee. I look forward to hearing more from Justice Larsen during her confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee and will continue to evaluate her nomination.”