R Street Shorts No. 68: Understanding the Blue Slip Debate
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.
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
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.”