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Senate Dems Under Pressure To Nuke Longstanding Rule That Enables GOP To Thwart Biden’s Judicial Nominees

The Congressional Black Caucus is lobbying Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin to end a long-standing Senate tradition that allows individual senators to block a judicial nominee in their home state, according to Politico.

Senators who represent the home state a nominee will be presiding over are sent a “blue slip” that enables them to voice their opinion on the nominee—if they fail to return the slip, the process stalls and can stop completely. Senate Democrats are now under pressure by progressive groups to end the practice after Republican senators used it to prevent some of Biden’s judicial picks from advancing, a practice Democrats worry will only increase, Politico reported Wednesday.

Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith declined to return her slip for nominee Scott Colom and has not moved in negotiations since April. Kansas Republican Sens. Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran are also withholding blue slips to slow the process of nominee Jabari Wamble while they negotiate with the White House over a Tenth Circuit nominee, according to Bloomberg Law.

The Congressional Black Caucus has changed its tune since 2017, when it urged the GOP-led Senate to keep blue slips. At the time, the caucus argued eliminating the blue slip would “remove the last meaningful check on President Trump’s power to unilaterally pack the judiciary – would further politicize the courts, erode judicial diversity, and undermine public confidence in the judiciary’s ability to provide fair and impartial justice.”

Now, Black Caucus Chair and Democratic Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford told Politico he doesn’t “know why anyone, let alone Senate Democrats, would hold up a Jim Crow practice.”

“It is literally about the fundamental survival of the people we represent,” Horsford told the outlet. But Black Caucus members from the Senate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, remain hesitant, as does Durbin, according to Politico. Booker, who used blue slips to stop Trump nominees, told The Washington Post in January that the practice is “a good thing.”

Fewer than 20 of Biden’s nominees have received GOP support, Durbin told Politico. In a letter to his colleagues in January, Durbin wrote it is important for all senators to work “in good faith to identify and advance highly qualified nominees for the bench.”

“During the 115th and 116th Congresses, Democratic Senators returned 130 blue slips for President Trump’s district court nominees,” he wrote. “This enabled 84 district court nominees to be confirmed—nearly 50 percent of all district court confirmations under President Trump. I personally returned blue slips on eight of President Trump’s Illinois district court nominees.”

Durbin did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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