August 14, 2017

Private: The Senate Must Respect the Blue Slip Process

blue slips, Sen. Mazie Hirono

by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)

Will our judiciary retain its independence and ensure that the rule of law applies even to this Administration?

At a time when a President calls judges with whom he disagrees “so-called” judges, we need our courts to continue to uphold the law.

The check provided by the courts against Trump’s unlawful Muslim ban is a reminder that we must have qualified, diverse and independent judges in federal courts throughout the country.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I fight for judges who will stand up for the rule of law.

The stakes over a record number of judicial vacancies could not be higher. From their filibuster of Judge David Hamilton, President Obama’s very first judicial nominee, to their brazen blocking of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans have made clear they understand those stakes.

Justice Gorsuch is now on the Supreme Court-- likely for decades-- because Senate Republicans had a plan, and used every tool at their disposal, to solidify a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. A conservative majority that will continue to favor corporate interests over the individual rights of ordinary Americans. President Trump and Senate Republicans will now seek to do the same on the lower courts.

In the Senate, Democrats must use the tools at our disposal to ensure an independent judiciary, through hearings, committee votes, and floor debate.

We also must insist that the Senate respect the Blue Slip process.

Blue slips enable home state Senators to ensure that the federal judges serving in their states are highly qualified, understand the importance of applying the law fairly, and meet the needs of their community.

We cannot become a rubber stamp for the President’s nominees and we must fight to prevent him from eroding the quality and independence of the federal judiciary. I go back to my opening question—in the age of Trump how do we stay true to our core values as Americans?

Together, we must protect American values by keeping strong institutional checks on the power of a dangerous and chaotic presidency. To survive this stress test we must work to protect the independence of the federal judiciary. And we must ensure that nobody is above the law.

Mahalo nui loa.