There is a lot popping right now on judicial nominations. I'll do my best below to provide some context and recommended action items.
First, it is very important to give credit where it is due: Senator McConnell, Chairman Grassley and the rest of the Senate did great past work both keeping Justice Scalia’s seat open and filling it with Justice Gorsuch. I know that battle concluded over six months ago, but it is still important to remain thankful to McConnell and Grassley for a victory that should pay dividends for the next thirty-five (35) years!
However, we have a present problem that has been building for many months, and McConnell and Grassley must do more. The Senate must pick up the pace on judicial nominees and must stop allowing whiny liberals, like Al Franken, to obstruct the confirmation of constitutionalist judges.
Thus far, the Senate has only confirmed seven (7) judges. That’s not good enough, and it is happening for two reasons: (1) Democrats are obstructing the confirmations and (2) Republicans are not doing nearly enough to stop the obstruction.
Blue Slip Obstruction:
Democrats are refusing to return their “blue slips” to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is a way for home state Senators to prohibit hearings for some judicial nominees and prevent nominations of others in cases where blue slips can be used as a threat before a nomination is ever made. If a nominee can’t get a hearing in the Judiciary Committee, they never leave the committee, and they never get to the Senate floor for a vote by the full Senate.
It is time for Chairman Grassley to proceed with hearings on obstructed judicial nominees, especially Circuit Courts, and especially when blue slips are being abused for purely political obstruction of the Senate. Conservative and liberal pressure on Grassley has been building for months, but Grassley is still non-committal, even after McConnell said yesterday that Democrats would no longer be allowed to use the blue slip to obstruct judicial nominees. Yesterday, Democrat Minority Leader Schumer joined the debate and encouraged Grassley to “resist” (that’s an interesting word choice) Chairman McConnell.
Floor Obstruction and Inaction:
McConnell’s statement about blue slip obstruction is helpful, but it kind of misses the point because McConnell has not required – and probably can’t require – Grassley to follow his lead. In fact, Grassley made that exact point back to McConnell yesterday. Moreover, the bigger problem is not blue slips but lack of floor votes. McConnell may not be able to solve the “blue slip” problem in the Judiciary Committee, but he surely has the power to fix the larger problem of floor obstruction. If McConnell wants to further the confirmation of judges, and I think he does, then there are three things that he can actually do right now to end the Democrat obstruction of floor votes:
- First, he should schedule all night sessions to run the clock on obstructionist Democrats.
- Second, he should schedule Senate votes on Thursday, and Friday, around the clock to speed things up and force votes on judicial nominees, and
- Third, he can change the 30-hour debate rule to 8 hours or less (no one is even debating close to 30 hours anyway).
McConnell and Grassley created a ton of goodwill with conservatives by ensuring that Scalia’s seat was filled with Gorsuch. However, the present situation demands that they again act decisively and courageously!
So, here are three things you can do:
- Demand that Grassley disregard Democrats’ “blue slips” when used for politics or obstruction, and proceed with hearings on obstructed judicial nominees like David Stras,
- Demand that McConnell drastically speed up the pace of nominations, schedule votes on Thursday, and Friday, schedule all night sessions to confirm judges, and change the 30-hour rule to 8 or less, and
- Tell McConnell and Grassley as well as your home state Senators: “Thanks for confirming Gorsuch, but it is time to drastically pick up the pace on judicial nominees and to quit allowing whiny liberals to prevent the confirmation of constitutionalist judges.”
Judicial Action Group