Chairman Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee has been discussing his blue slip process over the last couple days. He penned anopinion article yesterday in The Hill. In the article, Chairman Grassley discussed the origin of the blue slips and the real history of their use:
Nearly a century ago, Sen. Thomas Hardwick sent a blue sheet of paper to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee claiming that a nominee from his home state of Georgia was “personally offensive and objectionable.” Nonetheless, the committee proceeded on the nomination and reported the nominee to the Senate floor. . . That blue sheet of paper [the “blue slip”] was a part of a newly-adopted courtesy to get insights on federal court nominees from home-state senators in an era when such information was hard to come by. . .
Chairman Grassley went on to explain why this controversy has only recently arisen and is the fallout from the so-called "nuclear option" being invoked by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2013.
Fast forward to today. Some of my Democratic colleagues are attempting to rewrite history, falsely claiming that the blue slip courtesy is meant to give a single home-state senator veto power over the president’s judicial nominations . . . Democratic senators’ recent calls for a historical interpretation of the blue slip courtesy stem from a decision they made in 2013 to end the 60-vote filibuster for lower court nominees. This move, often referred to as the “nuclear option,” effectively silenced half of the Senate during confirmation votes. At the time, many Democratic senators argued it was unfair for a minority of senators to block nominees with majority support . . . But now that they are in the minority, Democrats are scrambling to cope with the fallout from their decision to deploy the nuclear option. . .
Republicans never abused this process in the same way under President Obama or any other Democratic president. In fact, what Democrats are doing is unprecedented obstructionism, which sadly has been effective so far:
As the minority continues its campaign to block President Trump’s nominees, some are looking to the blue slip as a way to halt judicial nominees before they are even considered in committee. To justify this move, they argue that few nominees have been confirmed since 1979 without support from both home state senators. But this talking point ignores the fact that nominees without two positive blue slips were often filibustered on the Senate floor after a committee hearing.
[A]ny suggestion that Republicans abused the blue slip under President Obama is simply untrue. . . Republican senators did not block any circuit court nominees during the first two years of the Obama administration via the blue slip. Meanwhile, Democrats have already attempted to block three of President Trump’s circuit court nominees by not returning blue slips. . . President Obama’s judicial nominees received a fair shake by the Senate. President Trump’s nominees are entitled to the same.
Today, Chairman Grassley made some more news regarding blue slips.Politico is reporting the Senate Judiciary Committee will schedule hearings for two of President Trump's judicial nominees. Chairman Grassley clarified his move by stating, “I’m less likely to proceed on a district court nominee who does not have two positive blue slips from home-state senators... But circuit courts cover multiple states. There’s less reason to defer to the views of a single state’s senator for such nominees.”
The RNLA applauds Chairman Grassley for his leadership and his efforts to get President Trump's well-qualified judicial nominees through the confirmation process.