McConnell Pulls Out the Stops to Smooth Path for Trump's Judicial Nominees

"The campaign, including the advertising, is in a holding pattern for now because Leader McConnell's office has reached out and wants to have discussions about how best to proceed in the coming months in order to avoid the kind of judicial confirmations bottleneck that the groups are concerned about", a Judicial Crisis Network spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.

The first flash point after McConnell's comments could be over Trump's choice of Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David Stras to be a judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks, and the Senate Conservatives Fund called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the rest of Senate leadership to resign over their inability to pass President Donald Trump's agenda, which includes repealing and replacing Obamacare, confirming federal judges, and funding a southern border wall.

And when nominees "come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with", McConnell said. Without the blue slip, nominees are not given a vote in the Judiciary Committee.

"The objective of the blue slip is to ensure consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees from their states".

The Kentucky Republican told The Weekly Standard that going forward, the lack of notice will be seen, "as simply notification of how you're going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball". Some conservative activists wanted McConnell to reduce the debate time to eight hours, but for now the 30-hour rule remains.

This definitely escalates the long-running judiciary wars in the Senate, but the blue-slip change just returns it to its usual status quo ante.

Since Trump was inaugurated, judicial vacancies have grown from 106 to 149. Only for two significant periods has the blue slip served as a one-person stealth filibuster, and technically doesn't work that way now. As recently as mid-September, Grassley was expressing public ambivalence over the future of the so-called "blue slip" tradition (based on the century-old practice of home-state senators indicating approval or disapproval of proposed judges from their state via a blue piece of paper), which Republicans used aggressively to block Barack Obama's judges. Ryan Bounds, on the other hand, has been blocked by both OR senators, who claim that Trump didn't consult with them on the choice.

Congratulations to Leader McConnell and Chairman Chuck Grassley (who surely approved this move) for ending an anachronism of Senatorial privilege in favor of majority rule. That gives the Republican majority a potential logjam of nearly 5,000 hours of Senate debate time, with a deadline of December 2018. They can't afford to slip up, blue or not.

Vanessa Coleman