After Senator Lindsey Graham finally handed the judicial committee gavel to Senator Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat warned his colleagues across the gang.
“Chairman Durbin has said several times that there cannot be one set of rules for Republican candidates and another set of rules for Democratic candidates,” a judicial officer told Politico. “We expect Republicans to act in good faith as well and work with the Biden administration to fill vacancies in district courts in red and purple states.”
Translation: We’re not going to put in place any change in the rules of retaliation to jam through judicial candidates like you did in 2017.
Four years ago, Senator Chuck Grassley overruled the blue slip process that allowed home state senators to block federal court candidates by not returning a blue slip for county court appointments. Of course, he announced the rule change in a statement denying changing the rules.
“Some of my colleagues and liberal outside groups have accused me of abolishing the 100 year old blue slip tradition. That’s just not true. I’m going for the blue slip policy that most of my predecessors had for most of this 100-year history, “he said, later adding that it was all the Democrats’ fault anyway because” the 2013 Democrats made politics have abolished obstruct. The filibuster enabled the senators to enforce the preferences of the home state senators in the Senate. “
The Senator did not cite the historical use of the filibuster to “enforce” the preference of the home state. He also neglected to mention that his own party had just destroyed the filibuster for Supreme Court candidates after keeping Justice Scalia’s seat open for more than a year. Suppose the shame is dead.
But now the Democrats control the White House and Senate. So the question is whether they will continue Grassley’s practice of allowing blue slip pads for district judges or fully advise them. When Senator Graham took the chair, he continued the practice. And Durbin appears to be holding up too, although Politico reports that this could change if Republicans use the procedure to block all Biden candidates.
This is a disappointment for progressives who were hoping Durbin would play hardball on court appointments. However, a look at the list of 54 job vacancies in the judiciary shows why the stool keeps its powder dry for the time being. According to Mitch McConnell’s verification attempt with 226 judges, the vast majority of the open positions in district courts are in states with two Democratic senators, including three in Connecticut, seven in New York, six in New Jersey, five in Washington, and a whopping 16 in California. If Senator Tuberville ever finds out what that third branch of government is, he has only one candidate left to block.
So at the moment the “Grassley Rule” applies. Unless the Republicans abuse the process. In that case … well, fuck around and find out.
Senate Dems take a side from GOP in judicial candidate battles [Politico]
Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore, where she writes on law and politics.