WASHINGTON (March 25) – One of the Trump Administration’s largest successes has been the confirmation of dozens of judges across the federal judiciary. As a result, the blue slip’s role in judicial confirmations has gained renewed interest—and scrutiny.
In a new policy short, R Street Research Associate on Governance Anthony Marcum discusses the influence of the blue slip tradition in light of the unprecedented number of judicial appointees the Trump administration has put before the Senate. He considers how the handling of the blue slip today allows the judiciary to operate at a fuller capacity while simultaneously deviating from the tradition of heeding the objections of home-state senators.
The author finds the blue slip to be an uncodified Senate tradition. As such, various chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee have treated their influence differently. For the majority of the blue slip’s history, it has not served as a recognized veto of judicial nominees. Nevertheless, it is also true that the current policy of regularly allowing nominees to proceed over the objection of both home-state senators is a deviation from tradition.
While the Senate’s current blue slip policy allows the judiciary to function at a fuller capacity, it limits the input of home-state senators, potentially spurring future political retaliation.
The author concludes, “blue slips are an informal tradition and courtesy to the senators of a judicial nominee’s home state. Historically, they were not always recognized as judicial vetoes, but the current approach of regularly advancing nominations over the objections of both home-state senators is a deviation from traditional Senate practice.”