The Download—Remaking the Judiciary

by Christine Niles  •  •  October 2, 2017   

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With 145 seats vacant on the federal judicial bench, President Trump has a chance to reshape the judiciary for decades to come, stacking the court with conservative judges and undoing Obama's work. The high-stakes battle is heating up, with Senate Democrats using new tactics to block Trump nominees, the latest involving the "blue slip."

According to a tradition of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a single senator can prevent colleagues from hearing a nominee from that senator's state by refusing to return a "blue slip" — a paper sent to senators of the nominees home state asking their approval to move forward with the nominee.

If the senators fail to return the blue slip, the nominee can't move ahead, and is effectively blocked. Some are criticizing the tactic as an outworn, outdated practice that belongs in the dustbin of history. Jonathan Tobin of National Review argues:

But blue slips are not about allowing the minority a say. Instead, they allow any senator to exercise far more power than the Constitution intended. Some traditions are useful for preserving civility and continuity from one generation to another. Others are just bad ideas that no one has yet had the sense to toss in the dustbin of history. It’s time to nuke the blue slip and let all nominees get a hearing and an up-or-down vote.

Watch the panel discuss Democrats' attempts to block Trump's judicial nominees in The Download—Remaking the Judiciary.


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