The Senate battle over the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees turned hot again this week as Democrats went after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, accusing him of going back on his word for how he would handle the “blue slip” process.
It was the latest dust-up in what’s been a lengthy — and mostly under-the-radar — fight to get Trump’s judges on the federal bench.
On Wednesday, Grassley held a hearing for Michael Brennan, a Wisconsin lawyer nominated to a vacancy on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Brennan received a “blue slip” from Republican Sen. Ron Johnson but not from Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
The blue slip is a century-old Senate tradition that allows senators to give or withhold their blessing for a judicial nominee from their state. The process provides the party that does not control the White House with leverage over a good number of the president’s nominations.
The process is intended to provide a more bipartisan consensus on judges who will serve in or represent a senator’s home state when the president is of the opposition party, encouraging communication between the White House and home-state senators before a nomination. But the opposition party has sometimes used the blue-slip process to stonewall nominations and prevent the president from naming judges in their states.