WASHINGTON ― Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will continue to honor the blue slip rule ― an arcane but hugely consequential Senate tradition that lets lawmakers block a president’s judicial nominees from their home states ― even though a news article suggested he would get rid of it, his spokesman said.
The Weekly Standard reported Wednesday that McConnell said in an interview that Democrats would no longer be allowed to use the rule to deny some of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees a committee hearing or a vote.
The Senate Judiciary Committee currently requires both home-state senators of a judicial nominee to turn in a blue slip ― literally, a blue piece of paper ― to signal support for moving forward with the nominee. Without blue slips from both senators, the nominee won’t get a hearing and the nomination is effectively dead. Blue slips amount to giving a single senator veto power over a president’s court pick.
In his interview, McConnell said that, from now on, Republicans will treat a blue slip “as simply notification of how you’re going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball.”
The article’s author, Fred Barnes, wrote that that means the blue slip rule now “won’t be honored at all.”
But McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said McConnell was talking about his own view on blue slips, and was not saying that Republicans won’t uphold the rule anymore.
“No, he’s been talking about HIS position on the matter for some time now,” Stewart told HuffPost in an email. “If you mean he’s not announcing a committee position, then yes, he’s not announcing a committee position.”
He mentioned a September article where McConnell said his personal view is that senators shouldn’t be able to use blue slips to block appeals court nominees, but should be able to for the lower district court nominees.
Both parties have used blue slips to block a president’s court picks. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden…