Archive for Presidential Judicial nominees

Senate 'Blue Slip' May Get the Pink Slip

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pink slip

There are times when it pays to heed a warning. The Senate is no exception.

For the past two years, Harry Reid has pleaded with the Republicans in the Senate not to abuse the filibuster rule, forcing 60 votes to get approval of presidential nominations to bench seats and as federal department heads. Over and over again, the Majority leader warned that abuse of the filibuster would lead to the 'nuclear option.'

The obstinate party of 'no' called the Democrats perceived bluff and they got themselves 'bitch slapped" as a result.

They brought it on themselves. You would hope they've learned lesson. We'll see.

The latest huffing and puffing, posturing  from the GOP Senators, is the Blue Slip rule. If you haven't heard of it, here's how it's explained on Wikipedia:

Both senators from a nominee's state are sent a blue slip in which they may submit a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a nominee. They may also choose not to return a blue slip. The Senate Judiciary Committee takes blue slips into consideration when deciding whether or not to recommend that the Senate confirm a nominee.

So just like the Hastert Rule in the House, it's generally followed BUT NOT BINDING. It's nothing more than a pocket rule, not a law. It's simply a method of doing business.

Once again the Republican senators, led by their leader, Mitch McConnell, are looking for ways of gumming up the government rather than to make it work smoothly -- as a political talking point to advance their public standing. They're threatening to use the Blue Slip procedure to hold up the President's nominations to the court. And once again, Harry Reid is warning them that the Blue Slip procedure will be adhered to only so long as it's not abused. That is called a warning.

Time will tell. The Blue Slips will be distributed to the appropriate senators as nominations are announced. If the GOP-ers act reasonably, then everything will stay the same. But if they capriciously abuse this "courtesy," the next step is they get bitch slapped again. The gentleman's agreement won't be enforced. Any change to the Blue Slip procedure would be up to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. He's not going to be tolerant very long.

Senator Patrick Leahy

Hopefully the Senate Republicans and their obstructionism will subside. If they want to be taken seriously they'll remember another old adage, "Once bitten, twice shy."

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Push The Nuclear Button, Harry.

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nuclear explosion

Harry Reid is laconic at best. Comatose for most of the remainder of time. Fortunately, he's on the cusp of joining "the better late than never" school on the filibuster rules --  or so it seems. From HuffPo:

WASHINGTON -- It's looking more and more likely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) isn't just ready for filibuster reform, but he's ready to do it this week.

A senior Democratic aide told The Huffington Post on Wednesday that there's "a greater possibility" that Reid will hold a vote this week instead of waiting until after the Senate comes back from recess in December. The proposal that Reid is planning to put on the floor would strip the minority of its ability to filibuster executive and judicial nominees, but wouldn't apply to Supreme Court nominees.

Filling vacancies on that court is a huge priority for the president. It's also his responsibility. It's the Senate's obligation of advise and consent. Instead, the Republicans have chosen to make it pure obstructionism. And that's been going of for five years. If Obama is to rule as the constitution has outlined, we can't have these 60 vote thresholds on every nomination.

Justice is being withheld from functioning as it's supposed to. There are vacancies on judgeships and without them being filled, we're letting innocent people sit in jail and letting guilty people go unpunished. This isn't a philosophical argument. It's one or rights and wrongs. And as long as there's a backlog because of a vacancy, those causing the opennings are contributing to injustice. They are complicit. Is that the law and order GOP thinks is right. If so, they need to go.

Here's the startling facts about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,

The court has 11 seats, of which four are filled by GOP-appointed nominees and four are filled by Democrat-appointed nominees. President George W. Bush had five nominees confirmed to the panel during his tenure. By contrast, Obama has only had one.

It's not as if Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats haven't been patient. It's the the Republicans have been irresponsible. If they want to complain, let them. They brought this on themselves, led by Mitch McConnell who pushed off Reid's calling for the Nuclear Option last year with a promise to work with the other side on nominees. He lied, and they haven't.

Push that button, Harry. We've waited long enough.

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