Judiciary war escalates: McConnell gives blue slips a pink slip

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell of Ky. talks to Kentucky farmer Mike Back at Mahan Farms in Paris Ky Monday Oct. 9 2017. Sen. Bob Corker is hardly the only Republican lambasting Donald Trump and raising dark concerns about harm the president

McConnell had long prodded the committee to increase the number of hearings, then report the nominees out as quickly as possible for Senate floor votes. But the entire saga shows once again how large a priority Republicans, conservatives, and especially Christian conservatives place on reshaping the federal judiciary.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he will end the long-held practice of giving senators a chance to block judicial nominees who would have jurisdiction over their states - a move that comes as McConnell faces increasing pressure from conservative groups to make the Senate more responsive to President Donald Trump's wishes.

Under that tradition, senators could issue a "blue slip" that would say they would not accept a particular home-state judicial nomination. In today's article in the conservative Weekly Standard, McConnell promised that "regardless of what tactics are used by Democrats, the judges are going to be confirmed".

No longer will "blue slips" be allowed to deny a nominee a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation. McConnell told Barnes that he can make that work, presumably by scheduling the Senate for continuous session and forcing Democrats to spend their debate time on the graveyard shift. But McConnell told the Weekly Standard recently that he will change the meaning of those blue slips. "Sen. Grassley has said that he expects senators and the president to continue engaging in consultation when selecting judicial nominees, and that, as in the past, any abuses of the courtesy would be addressed on a case-by-case basis", Foy said. Some conservative activists wanted McConnell to reduce the debate time to eight hours, but for now the 30-hour rule remains. He needs to decide whether he'll stand by his longstanding support of the blue slip process and his word of honor to Senator Leahy, or if he'll let himself be bullied by Senator McConnell. Today, a group of tea party conservatives sent a withering letter to McConnell blasting his leadership. Nearly exactly a month after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that he would not allow Democrats to use the blue-slip process as a stealth filibuster, McConnell has ordered the Judiciary Committee to treat them as strictly advisory. On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., noted that "the Senate has fewer and fewer mechanisms that create bipartisanship and bring people to an agreement". With Democratic Senator Al Franken asserting the right to veto a circuit-court judge from Minnesota, and both Democratic senators from OR objecting to another nominee from their state, push will soon come to shove.

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