President Trump has been praised by renowned legal minds for nominating highly-qualified judges to fill important vacancies on the federal bench. However, despite their sterling credentials, Senate Democrats continue to stand in the way of these judges by refusing to return “blue slips” that will allow their nominations to move forward.
UW-Madison political science professor Ryan Owens explained what “blue slips” are and why they are important in a Washington Examiner piece today:
The blue slip is an informal tool that a federal nominee’s two “home state senators” can use to support or oppose his or her nomination. For example, when the president nominates someone to be a lower federal court judge, the Senate majority leader refers that nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee chairman then sends a blue slip of paper to the two home state senators (regardless of whether they are in the majority or minority party) asking them to rate the nominee. Senators have three options: return the blue slip to the Committee Chair with a positive recommendation, a negative recommendation, or refuse to return it at all (which is essentially a negative recommendation).
For instance, Joan Larsen of Michigan was nominated by President Trump to serve as a judge on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is currently a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, has been praised by those that know her best in her home state, and received a “well-qualified” rating from the widely-respected American Bar Association, the highest possible recommendation. On top of that, Michigan voters were clear that they want President Trump making judicial appointments for the next four years when they voted for him last November.
Despite all this, Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have refused to return Justice Larsen’s blue slip with a positive recommendation, despite supporting every one of President Obama’s judicial picks. The only explanation for denying such a well-qualified judge from moving forward is partisan politics and the desire to obstruct any stand in the way of any nominee put forward by President Trump.
Sens. Stabenow and Peters aren’t the only ones engaged in this obstructionist practice. Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar still have not advanced Judge David Stras’ nomination to the U.S 8th Circuit Court Of Appeals, despite his home-state Minneapolis Star-Tribune writing that he “enjoys broad swath of support.”
This continued obstructionism is why voters across the country are so fed up with Congress and D.C. politicians. Instead of taking the common-sense approach and advancing the nominations of these Judges that are held in high regard across the board, these Democrats are more concerned with playing political games and appeasing the fringe members of their base. That’s not what these Senators were elected to do; they need to check their partisan interests at the door and return the blue slips so these impressive nominees can be seated as part of the federal judiciary.