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etvfutures.com October 20, 2017


McConnell: Democratic 'blue slips' won't block Trump judges

12 October 2017, 07:28 | Opal Carroll

Mitch McConnell. Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Mitch McConnell

With Democrats now having the ability to - in many states - prevent Trump's judicial nominees from advancing, McConnell told The New York Times recently that he thought the blue-slip practice should be scrapped for circuit-court nominations.

A collection of conservative political groups released a letter Wednesday calling for Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to step down, saying the leader has been a "failure" during the Trump presidency.

McConnell also made clear that he meant to keep making floor time that he would prioritize confirming new federal judges over some other mid-level Trump nominees, given the long-term significance of getting new conservatives installed in jobs that will long outlast the Trump White House.

McConnell told the Weekly Standard that Republicans will treat blue slips "as simply notification of how you're going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball". Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), abided by the blue-slip tradition during his six years leading the panel under former President Barack Obama. On Wednesday morning, the Weekly Standard published an interview with McConnell that might explain how. If it sticks, it will matter for a long, long time.

I can not read Foy's quoted statement, however, without thinking that the use of the blue slip to block the the Stras nomination represents a "case" of "abuse" by Minnesota's own Al Franken.

The blue slip tradition has been upheld by both parties for the past century, with only rare examples of judges making it to the bench without the blessing of both home state senators - the last time it happened was 1989. Mandel, who is now the OH state treasurer, has courted support from some of the very firebrands who hope to upset the GOP's status quo and pass much of Trump's agenda.

So far the Judiciary Committee has held hearings for 24 of Trump's nominees, with a hearing for an additional five scheduled next week.

His comments are a dramatic expansion of a Republican campaign to pull back on blue slip authority.

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President Donald Trump has, for his part, expressed dissatisfaction with McConnell. The process gives the party that does not control the White House leverage over the president's nominations, and some Democrats have used that power to deny Trump's nominees from moving forward in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Regarding federal courts, the Constitution further specifies that every single federal judge-from the Supreme Court to 13 courts of appeals to 94 district trial courts-must likewise be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., noted that "the Senate has fewer and fewer mechanisms that create bipartisanship and bring people to an agreement".

And when nominees "come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with", McConnell said.

McConnell is facing criticism from conservatives who say judicial nominees aren't being approved quickly enough.

And Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) are pledging they will not return their slips for Ryan Bounds, Trump's 9th Circuit pick, or "any other nominee that has not been selected through our judicial process".

While these leaders acknowledge the unprecedented delay tactics that Senate Democrats are using to slow-walk these nominations, they refuse to allow these to be an excuse for not delivering results. He could be trying, somewhat clumsily, to have it both ways: to insist in the press that he's pushing for a more aggressive approach on nominees while maintaining a more nuanced position within his caucus.



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