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View Diary: Federal judge nominee Boggs opposed 'homosexual Boy Scout leaders'. Time to dump him and blue slips (76 comments)

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  •  I wrote to Leahy (4+ / 0-)

    about this and actually got a reply--not a autogenerated one like I usually get. Doesn't mean he wrote it, obviously, but here's what it said:

    Thank you for writing to me about the use of the "blue slip" for nominations to federal judgeships.  I appreciate hearing from you on the important issue of judicial nominations.

     While some view the blue slip as a Senate procedure that has outlived its usefulness, I disagree.  A returned blue slip on a judicial nomination informs the Senate Judiciary Committee whether those senators who represent the state where the judge will sit support or oppose the confirmation of a judicial nominee.  While different chairmen of the Judiciary Committee may have stated various policies on blue slips, the result has been the same.  Nominations for lifetime appointments do not get confirmed over the objection of their home state senators. The blue slip is no more than a piece of paper, and if its use were discontinued tomorrow, this would not mean that whomever President Obama chose to nominate would get confirmed.  Eliminating the blue slip would likely lead to more nominees being stalled or defeated because Senators would want to protect their own interests by objecting to the nomination of someone in their state.

     The requirement in our Constitution that judicial appointments be made "with the Advice and Consent of the Senate" is not a mere formality.  I will continue to respect the important role of home state Senators, so long as it is not abused.

     I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to work to ensure the fair consideration of nominees to the federal judiciary.  I invite you to read my most recent statement on the blue slip by visiting my website. Thank you again for contacting me, and please keep in touch.

    Sincerely,

    PATRICK LEAHY
    United States Senator

    You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

    by gnothis on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:17:30 PM PDT

    •  There in lies the problem (11+ / 0-)

      if there is a blue slip objection to the nominee, that's the end of it. The nominee gets no hearing, no consideration.  With the end of filibuster for judicial appointments, this is now the only obstacle to get good judges on the bench, not political hacks like Boggs.

      Leahy is foolish. If the Republicans ever get the Senate majority back, they'll drop the blue slip and it will be no holds barred on every right wing ideologue.

    •  "...will continue to respect..." (11+ / 0-)

      use of blueslips "so long as it is not abused"??

      Senator Leahy, that time is long passed.

    •  Can anyone speak to his (5+ / 0-)

      contention that even without the blue slips no appts. will happen w/o the approval of the homestate senators? Is this just another of those 'gentlemen's club' rules? I thought with the elimination of the filibuster on judicial appts. that it would take only a majority vote to pass them.

      You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

      by gnothis on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:32:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm pretty sure it's not in the Constitution (4+ / 0-)

        that judges need the approval of their home state Senators.

        So, yep, another "gentlemen" club rule.

      •  They don't get to the floor without a (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gnothis, Eric Nelson, Penny GC

        committee vote. There's no committee vote on a nominee without a quorum. There's no quorum without two members of the minority. Regardless of the piece of paper, the Republican members of the committee can effectively block any nominee just by ensuring there's no quorum.

        If nominees do get out of committee, the Republicans can work to the rule and demand the full 30 hours of floor debate time per circuit judge and 2 hours per district judge, making the current confirmation pace look like the fast lane.

        •  Aren't they already doing the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eric Nelson, Villanova Rhodes

          slowdown tactics?

          You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

          by gnothis on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:27:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They are, but it could be worse. They (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gnothis

            force procedural votes to drag things out, then vote for the nominee anyway. Or they invoke the right to kick anything off for a week, that sort of thing. The point is they haven't needed to use the full arsenal because of the blue slip.

            At some level it's nearly all gentlemen's club rules, but their roots were planted shortly after the real Tea Party, and the gentlemen have almost always been more loyal to the Senate and their own privileges than to their party or president.

            I'm not in favor of the blue slip practice, just noting that discarding it wouldn't magically get nominees confirmed. I'm not convinced that losing the colored paper evidence of senatorial courtesy would eliminate the practice of senatorial courtesy. If Democratic senators have been pressing for that, they've been pretty quiet about it.

        •  Let them do that then. Let them abdicate (5+ / 0-)

          their Constitutional responsibility. I doubt they would, but that might actually show Americans their true colors.  The "blue slip process" is not achieving what it was designed to do--because these happen to be qualified nominees, objectively. They are being opposed by the home state Senators not for reasons relating to their qualifications, and in many cases, the nominees are completely non-ideological--they just happen to be named by a President that these Senators have pledged their donors to oppose under any circumstances.  In other words, they're using it as an excuse. That's abuse--period.  If the process is being abused they should be warned. If it's abused twice it should be eliminated.

          They can whine about the few and far between filibusters of Bush's nominees as much as they want but this level of obstruction and abuse is unprecedented--in much the same way as their use of the filibuster was unprecedented.

          •  Wonder whether some of this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dartagnan

            is Democratic conflict aversion. Real push-come-to-shove politics just too much for the likes of Leahy?

            Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

            by Simplify on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:19:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  And what are the next ten words? (0+ / 0-)

            Once we've demonstrated yet again that the Republicans are obstructionist, what then? By not consulting at all on nominations, several of them already have abdicated their constitutional responsibility. As far as I can see, they are paying no price. If the people of Texas cared about filling the vacancies in their courts, they'd have been up in arms long ago. They aren't. So where exactly does "let them do that" get us? I want judges, as many and as good as we can get, as fast as possible. I say vote this noxious one down as a bridge too far, and keep dealing. It's problematic when the other party has no interest in getting anything done. There's little left to trade except other patronage opportunities.

            BTW, senatorial courtesy & the blue slip gloss on it has never been about qualifications. It's been about patronage, deal making, and the balance of power -- mostly between the branches -- since President Washington's earliest days.

    •  So, Leahy's claim is that the blue-slip process... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Simplify

      ...facilitates getting judges approved. We have a lot of recent history dating back to 1995 proving that he is utterly wrong.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri May 16, 2014 at 02:10:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Leahy's Math (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades

      Leahy makes no sense:

      Eliminating the blue slip would likely lead to more nominees being stalled or defeated because Senators would want to protect their own interests by objecting to the nomination of someone in their state
      Well, how is that different from what's happening already, you might ask: where one or two senators of the other party object and the nominee goes nowhere? The difference is that no vote is permitted under his current system, whereas at least an up or down vote would occur in the absence of the blue slip. The two objecting senators could thereby register their dissent, while the rest of the Senate could vote "aye" and we would have judges. That's what would be different, Senator Leahy.

      It's always darkest before it gets less dark.

      by Karma Electra on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:30:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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