Kevin Drum re-suggests his solution for the filibuster crisis:

[T]here’s a pretty easy compromise: Republicans should offer to rescind their unprecedented and nakedly partisan changes to the blue slip rule if the Democrats will agree to end their filibusters. I don’t know if the Democrats would agree to this, but until the Republicans are willing to at least make the offer I’m pretty unsympathetic to the idea that both sides are equally blameworthy here.

Following the link, we see that the GOP was indeed partisan from 1995-2000, when they changed the rule to make it easier to defeat Clinton appointees. Still, allowing either party to kill any nominee they want so long as there is one Senator from any state in a judicial circuit that wants to kill it is even worse than the fillibuster, which at least requires 40 of 60 Senators to accomplish. And, as bad as the Republican rule was from 1995-2000, I’d argue that a one blue slip rule is somewhat more defensible in an era when one party controls the White House and another the Senate. But, surely, it makes no sense to give the minority party this power?

In the comments section, Matthew Yglesias argues that both sides are playing hardball but well within the bounds of fairness and that, furthermore,

The fact is, there’s no “crisis” here — there are plenty of judges, and plenty of vacancies have been filled.

That’s not exactly true. The problem isn’t with the raw number of confirmations and/or vacancies, but with the contentiousness of nominations for the circuit judgships. Several of the circuits are operating well under strength.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kevin Drum says:

    I wouldn’t argue one way or the other for one blue slip, two blue slips, or no blue slips. But it was Hatch’s rule and he should stick with it. It makes as much sense to give this power to the minority party now as it did in 1996, regardless of who’s in the White House.

    And if they want to agree on a change to the rule to take place in, say, 2008, that’s fine too. But in the meantime we should stick to the same rules that seemed OK to the Republicans back when Slick Willie was nominating judges.

  2. James Joyner says:

    But they didn’t give the power to the minority party in 1996–they were the majority. The Democratic minority was rather unlikely to blue slip a Clinton nomineee.

  3. Paul says:

    Kevin conveniently sets up a straw man and dodges the facts. (which is just SHOCKING, I would have never guessed he would do that.)

    He diddles over blue slips but is struck blind to this fact from the NYT:

    Democrats say a handful of President Bill Clinton’s appeals court nominees were blocked by Republican filibusters. Since under the modern, implicit filibuster, its existence becomes apparent only when there is an effort to end it, the Democrats point to votes taken to end a filibuster to prove their point. Republicans assert the so-called cloture votes were only procedural matters used to fine-tune the legislative calendar. In any event, all of those nominees were eventually confirmed.

    Like a good magician Kevin uses slight of hand and misdirection to confuse the issue.

    The issue is that the democrats are being scumbag weasels and not even giving these people a simple up or down vote because they know they will lose. It is not unlike a 5 year old upsetting a checker board.

    Funny, they whine and scream and rug their hands about voters in poor areas being “DISENFRANCHISED.”

    Well what about the people who want to simply VOTE on the nominees?

    Suddenly the hypocrisy becomes all too clear.