Skip to main content

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 (U

Congressional Democrats, civil rights leaders, and LGBT and women's rights leaders are angry with President Obama over his nomination of two decidedly conservative and fundamentally unacceptable people to federal judgeships in Georgia. Obama made these nominations in an attempt to work Georgia's Republican senators to try to get these vacancies filled, a situation that demonstrates just how messed up the Senate and Obama's relationship is. That dysfunctional relationship is getting some high-profile attention from The New York Times.
The conflict is the latest twist in a struggle over confirmations. Thefilibuster change, while heralded, had only a limited impact on the ability of Democrats to push through federal judges to lifetime appointments.

Senators still hold virtual veto power over judicial nominations associated with their states under a custom of the Senate Judiciary Committee that requires senators to return a “blue slip” acquiescing in a nomination before it can move forward.

Blue slips have been difficult to get in the case of nominations from states where one or both senators are Republicans. Of 18 pending nominations from those states, according to the committee, no Republican blue slips have been submitted, and Democrats have submitted only a few. [...]

[S]enators in both parties have shown reluctance to take that step since they do not want to lose influence over high-profile, lifetime judicial appointments in their states. They recognize that voting for judges opposed by home-state senators could later backfire on them if the tables are turned. “We could do away with the blue slip tomorrow, and it would not change a thing,” Mr. Leahy said. “Nominees opposed by home-state senators will not get through.”

That is a false argument, as all of those senators know. The blue slip tradition is just that, a tradition. It's not a set-in-stone Senate rule, and it can easily be observed, or not. Republicans know that particularly well, because when Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was in charge of the Judiciary Committee, he ignored them. While Leahy's choosing to ignore blue slips might end up angering Republicans, how much worse could it get? How much more could they obstruct than they already have? Observing the tradition is certainly a greater courtesy than Republicans were willing to extend to Democrats before 2007.

This fight is heightened over the fact that it's the federal judiciary we're talking about: lifetime appointments and judges who would preside for a generation. That's a legacy President Obama, Sen. Leahy and his fellow Democratic senators need to protect.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site