Senate Democrats accepted a Republican leadership offer Oct. 11 to allow for the confirmation of 15 judicial nominees to federal district and circuit courts.
Essential to this deal was Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) decision to waive the blue slip process, which allows senators from the home state of a judicial nominee to approve or raise an objection to the president’s choice. Blue slips – actual pieces of paper that a senator returns to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman — are not mandated by Senate rules, statute or the Constitution.
While intended to provide the president and Senate with relevant and useful information on the judicial nominee, blue slips have become an implement of needless obstruction, whereby even a single senator can halt the confirmation process indefinitely, simply by refusing to submit a slip.
Our federal court system is understaffed and overworked. At a time of heightened partisan rancor that prevents the orderly and timely confirmation of federal judges, circuit and district courts are becoming increasingly dysfunctional, rendering the disbursement of justice ever more difficult.
The Senate deal, in addition to Sen. Grassley’s waiving of blue slips, is a step in the right direction. The Constitution explicitly calls for the establishment of federal courts — not for the preservation of outdated traditions that habitually impede the fulfillment of that duty.
We have Sen. Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to thank for these changes. Show them your support by signing these letters to show your appreciation for their unwavering diligence in fulfilling Congress’ constitutional duties.