Grass­ley un­sure if ‘slip’ tra­di­tion will be cast aside

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY ALEX SWOYER

Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Chair­man Charles E. Grass­ley said Thurs­day he hasn’t de­cided whether to dis­re­gard the cham­ber’s blue slip tra­di­tion and push through one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s ap­peals court picks over the ob­jec­tions of a home-state Demo­crat.

“You need to ask me in a month,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Sen. Al Franken, Min­nesota Demo­crat, is flex­ing the blue-slip pol­icy, which gives se­na­tors a say in ju­di­cial picks from their home states, in re­jec­tion of Min­nesota’s Supreme Court Jus­tice David Stras, Mr. Trump’s nom­i­nee for the 8th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals.

Un­less both home-state se­na­tors re­turn their blue slips sig­nal­ing ac­qui­es­cence, the Se­nate tra­di­tion­ally won’t pro­ceed with a nom­i­na­tion.

An ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial told The Wash­ing­ton Times on Wed­nes­day they hope Mr. Franken re­lents but if not, they want to see Repub­li­cans pro­ceed with the nom­i­na­tion any­way.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion stands be­hind Jus­tice Stras and re­mains fully com­mit­ted to his nom­i­na­tion to the 8th Cir­cuit,” the of­fi­cial told The Times.

The stance marks an es­ca­la­tion in the ju­di­cial bat­tle, where Democrats, left with­out the abil­ity to use a mi­nor­ity fil­i­buster, are search­ing for ways to block ju­di­cial picks they deem too con­ser­va­tive.

Mr. Franken said he op­posed Jus­tice Stras be­cause he said he looks to Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas and the late Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia as role mod­els.

“I am con­cerned that a nom­i­nee nur­tured by such an ide­ol­ogy would likely seek to im­pose it on the lit­i­gants be­fore him,” Mr. Franken said last week in an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion.

Soon af­ter Mr. Franken’s stand, Demo­cratic Sens. Ron Wy­den and Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon said they wouldn’t re­turn their blue slips for Ryan Bounds, a nom­i­nee to the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals.

Ear­lier this year, Mr. Grass­ley said the blue slip tra­di­tion has gen­er­ally been hon­ored for district court judges rather than cir­cuit court judges — some­thing Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, echoed on Wed­nes­day.

“My per­sonal view is that the blue slip, with re­gard to cir­cuit court ap­point­ments, ought to sim­ply be a no­ti­fi­ca­tion of how you’re go­ing to vote, not the op­por­tu­nity to black­ball,” Mr. McCon­nell told The New York Times.

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