Michigan Senators Return Blue Slips for Justice Joan Larsen – After 3 Months

Last week Michigan senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow turned their blue slips in for Justice Joan Larsen’s nomination to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, clearing the way for a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proceeding of this nomination is well warranted, but the needless delay of Justice Larsen shows that the blue slip process is used increasingly as a tool of obstruction–and needs to be eliminated.

According to Sen. Stabenow–who “reviewed” and “consulted with Michigan’s legal community” for three months after Larsen’s nomination–she finally concluded that, “in my judgement, there’s no reason for her not to proceed.”

The senators dragged their feet to delay this appointment, but it shouldn’t have taken long to see that Justice Larsen is more than suitable to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court. As a law professor at the University of Michigan, 30 of her bipartisan colleagues sent a letter to Michigan’s senators expressing their “enthusiastic support.”

Additionally, her service on the Michigan Supreme Court and time spent clerking for the late Justice Scalia have helped her accumulate a wealth of experience with how a good judge should operate. Larsen illustrates how judges should refrain from legislating from the bench:

“Judges should interpret the laws according to what they say, not according to what the judges wish they would say. Judges are supposed to interpret the laws; they are not supposed to make them.”

We commend Justice Larsen’s nomination proceeding, but more qualified nominees are held hostage by the arcane blue slip process. This is just one example of how the power of the blue slip has enabled senators to favor obstruction over serving their constituents. The blue slip process now only serves to block and impede judicial nominations.

Congress needs to eliminate this rule and help expedite the process of filling over 120 federal court vacancies. CVA will continue to engage our activists as needed to see capable and accomplished nominees confirmed up and down the courts.