"I assume 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," Leahy said. "As long as the blue slip process is not being abused by home state senators, then I will see no reason to change that tradition."Despite the fact thatplenty of evidence that Republicans are and have been abusing the process for the whole of Obama's presidency is staring Leahy in the face, he's refusing to acknowledge it. In response to a New York Times editorial that ran in a Vermont paper pressing him to reform the procedure, Leahy penned this op-ed.
The judicial confirmation process in the Senate has grown increasingly difficult. If a president does not consult with home state senators to seek their advice on nominees, it is far less likely the nominee will have their support and be confirmed. The blue slip is just a piece of paper and could be eliminated today, but that would not change the importance of home state senators’ support for confirming judicial nominees to the states they represent. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I have worked tirelessly to get judicial nominees confirmed. I cannot recall a single judicial nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home state senators. The blue slip process reflects this reality, and those who care about the courts and who want qualified judges confirmed should not overlook this fact. […]The process is being abused, and contrary to Leahy's assertion that keeping blue slips "ensures that the eventual nominees will have home state support in the confirmation process" is just plain hogwash. Right now Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is holding up the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker—a candidate he recommended to Obama in 2009. And he refuses to explain why this candidate, who he said back in 2009 had "the requisite qualifications to serve with distinction," has lost his support. He's refusing to provide his blue slip to Leahy so the committee can move forward. Republican obstruction is also creating rifts among Democrats, as in the case of Obama's nominees for Georgia. The only way he could fill a number of vacancies in the state was by agreeing to a couple of horrendous picks that state's senators were insisting upon. In order to even get those Republicans to play ball, he nominated two candidates who are anti-choice, anti-civil rights, and antithetical to everything he stands for. That's because the Republicans still have the power over what nominations move forward. In Texas, there are nine vacancies, seven of have been empty so long they've reached judicial emergency status. And Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn refuse even to provide names to President Obama.
[…] The blue slip process empowers senators to have input with presidents about those who will serve their constituents. It also ensures that the eventual nominees will have home state support in the confirmation process.
The White House is frustrated, with Obama's top nomination's advisor calling the blue slip process "more problematic than the filibuster because it can act as a silent, unaccountable veto." Fellow Democrats in Congress are frustrated. Allies in the advocacy groups are frustrated. President Obama has just 20 months left to establish his legacy in the courts, something Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to prevent.
Everyone seems to be frustrated by Republican blue slip abuse except Sen. Leahy, who continues to insist that there's no problem here, move along now. There is a problem here. And Leahy is the one person who can fix it. It's about time he did so.