Is It Time to Give the Slip to Blue Slips?

The unprecedented obstruction of President Trump’s nominees has led Senate Republicans to rightly consider redoing the so-called blue slip policy.  Before we go to describing the policy, let just remind people that Senate Democrats have opposed people they like and qualified nominees for no other reason then to give into the far left’s desire to “resist.”

Which brings us to blue slips.  As the Hill writes:

Blue-slipping a nominee, which dates back to at least 1917, isn’t actually an official rule. It’s more of a courtesy in which the home-state senators are asked to sign off on a judicial nominee on an actual blue slip of paper before the committee holds a nomination hearing.  

With Democrats blocking or delaying even their friends and qualified nominees, Republicans have no choice but to consider a new “blue slip” policy.  As Senator Cotton stated:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that if Democrats start abusing the so-called blue slip rule, Republicans should consider dumping the policy, which allows a senator to block a judicial candidate from his or home state by simply not returning a blue slip to the Judiciary Committee.. . .  “I think the blue slip tradition can be helpful if it encourages the White House to consult in advance with senators,” Cotton told Hewitt, an avowed opponent of the blue slip rule. “But we can’t allow Democratic senators to continue to obstruct this president’s agenda. If they’re just arbitrarily not returning blue slips, we have to consider changing that tradition to one of its past other forms.”

Ed Whelan list some of the potential solutions which really aren’t radical as they were done in the past:

I respectfully suggest that Chairman Grassley should restore what Senator Orrin Hatch, his predecessor as chairman (from 1995 through 2005), called the “Kennedy-Biden-Hatch blue-slip policy.” Under that policy, the return of a negative blue slip on a nomination would be given “substantial weight,” but a committee hearing and vote on the nomination would proceed.

As a second-best alternative, Grassley could sensibly differentiate—as he has signaled he might well do—between district-court and appellate-court nominees and give home-state senators more say over district-court nominees. After all, the caseloads of district judges clearly relate to the state in which the judge will sit. By contrast, the caseloads of appellate judges are drawn from the various states in a single circuit, and any particular appellate judge takes part equally (pro rata) in the cases arising from the district courts across those various states. If Grassley takes this differentiated approach, it is important that he make clear that a negative blue slip on an appellate nomination will receive no more than “substantial weight.”

It is unfortunate that Democrats are working so hard to undermine government at every turn.  Hopefully, Senate Democrats will return to decorum but if they don’t, we have faith in the Senate Republican leadership to do what is necessary so nominees get treated fairly.