In a move that appears to lack even a scrap of self-awareness or short-term memory, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats used the panel’s first hearing after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to complain about “partisanship” in the process.
It was a relatively quiet hearing in comparison to the “intergalactic freak show” that America watched with bated breath over the last few weeks, but there were some incredibly ironic disagreement on the panel.
That disagreement took the form of a debate over what is known as the “blue slip” or “blue slipping.” Senators from a judicial nominee’s state of residence are asked to write an opinion either approving or disapproving the confirmation of said nominee. And it’s been observed less and less during the past year, which has given Democrats very few options for obstructing President Trump’s judicial transformation efforts.
In this this specific instance, two Sixth Circuit judicial nominees (Eric Murphy and Chad Readler) did not get the blue slip approval of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, for brazenly partisan reasons but were still being moved forward anyway.
Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Vt., all spoke up against the procedural snub. Booker lamented how it contributed to more “partisanship” in the confirmation process; Leahy said it increased the “politicization of the judicial branch,” and Whitehouse called the blue slip “a healthy check on executive power.”
However, as Mike Lee correctly explained to the rest of the committee, blue slips are not required by the Constitution. And having them before proceeding with a nomination is neither a Senate nor a Judiciary Committee rule. They are a custom and a courtesy that he said has seen “at best inconsistent application” over the years.
So, just to be clear about what’s happening here:
After weeks of the most brazenly partisan and cynical Supreme Court confirmation fight thus far in U.S. history, after Senate Democrats who pre-emptively vowed to oppose a nominee before he was named tried to destroy a nominee’s reputation and career without any corroborating evidence, after those same Democrats demand that the regular order of the confirmation process be upended so that their demands could be met, Senate Democrats on the very same committee at its very next meeting decided to lecture their Republican colleagues on partisanship and courtesy in the judicial confirmation process.
You can’t make this stuff up.