The Blue Slip Policy

The next fight over judicial nominations will involve the custom that the Senate does not take up a district or circuit nominee if one home state senator objects. Declining to return the so-called “blue slip” is a way of blocking a nominee and asserting a senator’s right to be consulted by the White House. Senator Al Franken, for instance, is refusing to return his blue slip on David Stras, a nominee from Minnesota for the Eighth Circuit.

Maybe this is simplistic, but it strikes me that the blue slip policy makes more sense only if both home state senators object to somebody.  If only one does, that gives an individual senator too much power to block a nomination (basically, a total veto). If both senators from the relevant state object, though, then I think there is a federalism interest that other senators should respect, though of course it’s their call.

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1 Response

  1. Joe says:

    Ideally, in a few cases, if a certain nominee greatly troubles a fellow senator, the senator should go along all things being equal. This would require restraint, so you know, ideally. Yes, the best policy is the senators acting like a unit, such as agreeing all nominees should be submitted to a panel (as is the policy in a few states apparently) — no matter who the person making the nomination is. If the senators split, perhaps a means could be set up for a tie breaker among themselves.