Time to end the blue slip process in judicial confirmation

For more than a century, the U.S. Senate has followed the “blue slip” process, an obscure tradition that gives senators virtual veto power over federal judicial nominees, U.S. marshals and U.S. attorneys.

Put another way, it allows senators to play politics with America’s federal court system.

When senators fail to return blue slips to the Senate Judiciary Committee, they obstruct the already-lengthy judicial confirmation process, forcing nominees to wait in limbo until the slips are returned.

Too often, this turns the confirmation process into another petty political game. The American people both expect and deserve better.

Today, there are more than 130 federal judicial vacancies in district and appellate courts across the country. Among the hundreds of vacancies waiting to be filled, two extremely qualified appellate court nominees stand out.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, nominated for the 6th Circuit Court and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, nominated for the 8th Circuit Court, remain unconfirmed, their seats vacant, because one senator from Michigan took three months to hand in her blue slip and one Minnesota senator hasn’t handed his in at all.

No single senator should have the power to block qualified nominees from committee consideration or an up-or-down vote on confirmation.

The blue slip process remains a senatorial courtesy – a custom — not a Senate rule. The Judiciary Committee is the only panel that practices it, and only for nominees to the posts mentioned above.

A century of obstruction is enough. It’s past time that this arcane Senate custom is abandoned and for senators to show the judicial confirmation process the respect it deserves.

Sign the petition and tell the Senate to abandon the blue slip process!