Washington, D.C. — On Monday, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of 10 federal judges to fill vacancies across the country. The White House confirmed that the administration relied on right-wing groups such as The Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, the same groups that composed the administration’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees. It is possible that the administration may be bypassing senators from these nominees’ home states who have been required to sign off on nominees under the century-old “blue slip” tradition, which requires presidents to work with home-state senators of both parties to fill vacant seats. Michele Jawando, Vice President for Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress, has issued the following statement in response to the news:
President Trump has—time and time again—demonstrated that he is threatened by an independent judiciary and that he wants to fill scores of vacancies with right-wing ideologues. To do this, the administration is blatantly disregarding a century of tradition by bypassing senators from the states where these vacancies exist. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said he was not meaningfully consulted, and he is concerned that the nomination of Minnesota Judge David Stras was “the product of a process that relied heavily on guidance from far-right Washington, DC-based special interest groups—rather than through a committee made up of a cross-section of Minnesota’s legal community.” Stras has a conservative record and once wrote that the Supreme Court’s “ventures into contentious areas of social policy—such as school integration, abortion, and homosexual rights—have raised the stakes of confirmation battles.”
CAP is also concerned that another Trump nominee, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, has only been a judge since September 2015. She was re-elected in 2016 with millions of dollars in campaign cash from big business groups and wealthy donors, including members of the DeVos family. Like Justice Neil Gorsuch, Larsen worked for the Bush administration Office of Legal Counsel at a time when it was harshly criticized for concluding that there were few limits on presidential authority when it came to national security.
Trump should work with home-state senators, as presidents have done for the past 100 years. He should not be single-handedly choosing judges who he thinks will follow his agenda. Many senators have set up nominating commissions to evaluate potential nominees based on their qualifications, and the administration should support such processes.
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