Judicial Nominations

  • September 6, 2017

    by Samuel L. Rubinstein, American Constitution Society Strategic Engagement Fellow

    As attorney Jack D’Aurora persuasively argued in a recent column in the Columbus Dispatch, rampant spending and lax ethics rules have contributed to a crisis of confidence in the Ohio judiciary. According to the Brennan Center’s New Politics of Judicial Elections Report, in 2014, more than $3.2 million was spent on Ohio Supreme Court races alone, the 5th most in the nation, with more than 22% of that coming from outside groups. This isn’t new, as Ohio saw more TV ads for Supreme Court elections than any state, every year in the 2000-2009 decade.

  • August 22, 2017

    by Kyle Barry, Policy Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. 

    ***This piece was originally posted on Medium 

    In tweets and statements, Senate Republicans have emphatically distanced themselves from President Trump’s morally bankrupt response to the violent white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. When Trump blamed “both sides” and said that “many fine people” were among the torch-bearing neo Nazis, the bipartisan rebuke was swift. Jeff Flake said that “we cannot accept excuses for white supremacy.” Orrin Hatch said that “we should never hesitate to call out hate whenever and wherever we see it.” And Lindsey Graham criticized Trump for responding in a way that earned “praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country.”

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkin and Victoria Bassetti, Brennan Center Contributor

    Donald Trump's contempt for women assumes many forms. His selection of nominees to serve as U.S. attorneys around the country has proven to be one of them: Of the 29 people he has nominated for U.S. attorney positions, 28 are men.

    Fully 25 are white men. There's one Asian-American woman, one African-American man, one Asian-American man and one Native American man.

  • May 15, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on Medium.

    by Kyle Barry, Legal Defense Fund Policy Counsel

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has revealed that he is willing to trash longstanding Senate tradition and undermine his Senate colleagues to hand control of the federal courts over to President Donald Trump. Grassley said that he will allow Trump to go over the heads of Democratic senators to fill federal appeals court vacancies in their home states “because that’s the way it’s been.” Grassley’s statement is both historically inaccurate and dangerous, as it removes a key protection against this administration’s relentless attacks on democratic norms and the rule of law.

    Grassley’s remarks addressed how he will apply the Judiciary Committee’s “blue slip” policy. Traditionally, judicial nominees do not receive a confirmation hearing until both senators from their home state indicate approval on a blue sheet of paper sent to the Committee. For 100 years, this policy has served as a vital part of the Senate’s constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent on nominations. The blue slip ensures that senators advise on who serves as federal judges for the people they represent and preserves independent courts by making judicial selection a more inclusive process not confined to the president and his political allies. The blue slip is even more valuable now, with a president who picks judges in concert with right-wing interest groups and rushes to announce nominees before the nonpartisan American Bar Association evaluates their qualifications.

  • April 4, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This post was adapted from a longer piece at The Vetting Room.

    by Harsh Voruganti, Founder and Principal at The Voruganti Law Firm

    On March 21, 2017, President Trump made his first lower court nomination: Judge Amul R. Thapar, for a seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. With over 136 current and future vacancies on the federal bench, more nominees will likely follow. With a Republican majority in the Senate, the elimination of the filibuster on lower court nominations and conservative groups howling for blood, there is little incentive for Trump to choose moderates for the bench. However, one Senate practice may work to constrain Trump’s more conservative nominees and encourage him to work with Democrats: the blue slip.

    Derived from the traditions of senatorial courtesy, the blue slip is named after the traditional blue paper it is printed on. When a nominee is submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “blue slips” are sent to the senators representing the nominee’s home state. The senators then return the blue slip, indicating either approval or disapproval of the nominee. If a home state senator expresses opposition to a nominee, or refuses to return a blue slip, the Committee does not move the nomination to the floor.

    While the blue slip practice goes back about 100 years, there are rare examples of nominees moving through the Senate Judiciary Committee without two positive blue slips. In 1983, then Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond (R-SC) processed (and the Senate later confirmed) John Vukasin to a seat on the Northern District of California, over the objection of Sen. Alan Cranston (D-CA). A few years later, then-Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) processed President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of Vaughn Walker to the same court, again over Cranston’s objection.