Senate Democrats Stalling Hearing for Conservative Justice Joan Larsen from Michigan

Senate Democrats are using an unprecedented technique to stall the hearing of Justice Joan Larsen of Michigan to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate Judiciary Committee has not taken up the nomination of Larsen because the two Senators from Michigan, Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, have not signaled their approval according to The Detroit News.

Under Senate tradition, the committee doesn't hold hearings for a judicial nominee until his or her home-state senators submit "blue slips" showing their consent to advancing the nomination. 

“What we have seen is that these senators [Stabenow and Peters] are attempting to use Senate procedure to just block Larsen’s appointment altogether,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. 

 Severino added:

That’s a real shame. She is highly qualified, she was a very popular and accomplished professor at the University of Michigan, she’s a great Supreme Court justice for the state of Michigan, and was just re-elected by the citizens of the state that these senators claim to represent. This is something that is manifestly not in the interest of their own constituents; it’s truly just plain politics. 

Justice Larsen's many accomplishments in Michigan. She clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Larsen also caught the eye of President Trump, who had her on the short list of potential Supreme Court nominees during his Presidential campaign. Despite her qualifications, Democrats are playing politics to refuse a highly-qualified Judicial appointee.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley could still intervene despite the stalling. Elizabeth Slattery, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email:

Grassley may decide to put a time limit on when senators must return a blue slip, otherwise assuming they do not object. He could treat blue slips for appeals court nominees differently than those for district court nominees, since customarily, home-state senators have played a larger role in selecting district court nominees. He could also jettison blue slips entirely—although that’s unlikely to happen. 

It's unfortunate that Senate Democrats are using these tactics to stall a very well qualified appointee to the federal bench. Senate Democrats should look beyond party politics and provide a timely up-or-down vote for these well-qualified nominees to help fill the 150+ judicial appointee vacancies.

[Note: This blog post was first published on Monday, July 17, 2017.]