The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (R) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (L), confer before listening to NSA Director General Keith Alexander (not pictured) in Washington December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - RTX16EEY

Senate Republicans aren't just forcing all night sessions to exact their revenge on Democrats for invoking the nuclear option and ending the filibuster on nominations, they've escalated the fight to preventing the Judiciary Committee from even meeting.
Under a rarely enforced Senate rule, committees can't meet more than two hours after the Senate goes into session. Routinely, senators give unanimous consent to waive the rule so the committee can carry out the chamber's—and the country's—business. But today, Republicans refused unanimous consent to let the Judiciary Committee meet.

The committee has a busy schedule, with votes scheduled for 15 judicial nominees who have testified before the members and answered follow-up written questions. Among those are nominees for vacancies designated as judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Each one of the nominees has been fully vetted and has the support of their home state senators, including Republicans Mark Kirk (IL), Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran (KS), Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), and Pat Toomey (PA). [...]

If the committee is not able to meet until next week—the last week the Senate is expected to be in session—and Republicans force the nominees to be held over, then they'll be stuck in committee at year's end. Since that will be the end of a session of Congress, absent unanimous consent to do otherwise, Senate rules require the nominees to be sent back to the president for renomination in the next session. That would force all of these nominees to repeat the committee voting process all over again, where once again the GOP could find new ways to slow them down.

Can anyone doubt that Republicans will continue to do anything they can to force these nominations to expire before the end of the year? They'll do whatever possible to block these nominees for as long as possible. This means that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, is going to have to be willing to establish new rules, or ignore existing ones as much as is in his power to do so.

That's going to include ending the "blue-slip" tradition. That's the tradition of asking the home state senators of a nominee to support the nomination by signing off on a "blue slip." Leahy says that he intends to continue to honor the tradition because he "assume[s] no one will abuse the blue slip process like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the Senate." If they're going to abuse the rules to keep his committee from meeting, they're going to abuse blue slips. Leahy is going to have to act to allow his committee to function again.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 11:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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