Heritage Leads the Charge Against ‘Blue Slip’ Tradition

HERITAGE IMPACT

Heritage Leads the Charge Against ‘Blue Slip’ Tradition

October 20th, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS/Newscom

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced his support to do away with a little-known Senate practice called “blue slips,” that has made it easier for Senate Democrats to scuttle President Trump’s judicial nominees.

The support for the change in procedure comes after Heritage led the charge to break the logjam of federal court appointments. Elizabeth Slattery, a legal fellow in Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, wrote a report describing the problem with the process and the solution earlier this summer.

“Blue slips have had various degrees of efficacy in blocking judiciary nominations throughout their 100-year history,” wrote Slattery. “Chairman Grassley must ensure Senate Democrats do not abuse the blue slips process to prevent the confirmation of constitutionalist judges.”

Currently the Senate has only confirmed seven judges out of more than 50 nominees. There’s still a long way to go—with more than 160 vacancies.

Slattery has also published multiple op-eds on blue slips since then and even talked about it in her podcast “SCOTUS 101.”

Late September, Slattery and Tiffany Bates, a legal policy analyst in Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, teamed up to produce a Washington Times column on President Trump’s blue slip problem. Just two weeks later McConnell announced that the tradition of blue slips should no longer be honored.

While Senator Chuck Grassley of the Judiciary Committee controls the process, he has said he will consider the blue slip process on a “case by case basis.”

“This proposed change would be a step in the right direction toward confirming the backlog of highly qualified judicial nominees,” said Slattery.