NYT urges Dem Sen. Durbin reform process for blocking judicial nominees
The Times board further pointed to past Senate tradition by which the president might consult with both senators from the same state over an objection to a judicial nominee.
The New York Times editorial board on Monday called on Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to revise the "blue slip" procedure by which an individual senator can block the confirmation of a federal judicial nominee from their home state for any reason, as a "courtesy."
The board pointed to the nomination of Judge William Pocan to serve on the federal bench, a post for which Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson initially recommended him, before reversing his position and blocking the appointment by refusing to return a "blue slip."
Johnson's objections prevented Durbin from sending Pocan's nomination to the Senate floor for a vote, which the editorial board pointed out is the result of a convention, not a formal procedure.
"The only barrier was Mr. Durbin's interpretation of an archaic Senate tradition of courtesy that allows senators to effectively veto federal district judge nominations from their own state for any reason or for no reason at all," the board wrote. "That home-state veto is a fundamentally undemocratic practice that gives far too much power to individual senators."
"Democrats have used it to block extreme candidates from Republican presidents when they were in the Senate minority," they continued. "But as we noted in 2017, elections have consequences, and there will be times when Democrats will have to accept unpalatable judges in order for the Senate to operate along the principle of majority rule."
"For now, though, it is Republicans who will have to accept the consequences of their failure to regain the Senate last November, and Mr. Durbin holds the power to make that happen... He could unilaterally end this blue-slip custom at any time without requiring any kind of vote or radically upending an important Senate practice, just as Republicans decided to end it for appellate-level judges in 2018," they concluded.
The Times board further pointed to past Senate tradition by which the president might consult with both senators from the same state over an objection to a judicial nominee and urged the Democrats to embrace such a policy.
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.