Conservative Group Floods Minnesota Airwaves After Franken Blocks Trump Judicial Pick

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a conservative advocacy group, has put $75,000 behind a digital and television advertising campaign attacking Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota for blocking one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.

Franken announced in early September that he would withhold support for Trump’s nominee to a Minnesota seat on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, state Supreme Court Justice David Stras. In its new ad, JCN says that Stras commands more support within the state than does Franken, and that his nomination is supported by most of Minnesota’s legal establishment.


“Franken is trying to block the Judiciary Committee from even reviewing Justice Stras’s sterling record and his refusal to return the blue slip for Justice Stras is unacceptable,” said JCN chief counsel Carrie Severino. “By not returning his blue slip, Senator Franken is choosing Washington politics over the people of Minnesota.”

The ad will run statewide on digital platforms for two weeks, and on television around Minneapolis during network Sunday morning shows.

Franken’s decision could force a confrontation over the last procedural mechanism senators have to stall a judicial nomination.

By Senate convention, senators from states where judicial vacancies occur submit an opinion or a “blue slip,” giving a positive or negative evaluation of a nominee named to that vacancy. As a general matter, the Committee on the Judiciary will not convene a hearing for a nominee until the relevant senators submit their blue slips. Since Stras has been nominated for a seat in Minnesota, Franken’s blue slip is required for a hearing to proceed.

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, can do away with the blue slip protocol at any time.

Stras received a well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Judiciary, which returns assessments on all judicial nominees.

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