The New York Times editorial board ripped into the GOP Friday for trying to prevent Democrats from obstructing the appointments of federal judges after supporting Democrats’ efforts to do the same in the past.
“Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, are itching to eliminate the last remaining tool the minority party has to influence a president’s picks for the federal courts — the so-called blue slip.” laments The Times’ editorial board. “Back in 2009, Mr. McConnell and the entire Republican Senate caucus — then in the minority — implored President Barack Obama to honor all blue slips.”
What’s all this talk about a blue slip?
“They are nothing more than a tradition, which has been in use off and on (mostly on) since the early twentieth century,” writes Jeffrey Toobin for The New Yorker. Blue slips refer to a letter containing a blue piece of paper given to senators from a nominated judge’s home state. The letter invites each senator to check a box based on whether or not they approve of the nomination. What was once used as an information gathering tool from senators most familiar with the nominees, eventually morphed into veto power.
“Given the extreme degree of Republican obstruction during the Obama administration, the Democrats had little choice but to change the filibuster rule,” wrote The Time’s editorial board in Nov. 2013, lamenting the minority GOP’s use of the rule to stymie Obama nominees. In a piece affectionately titled “Democracy Returns To The Senate,” the board boldly proclaims that the GOP’s “recent blockade of judges to the D.C. appellate court was the last straw.”
Perhaps in 2009 McConnell did laud the use of blue slips, but they were never intended as a matter of law or parliamentary procedure to the have the potency the filibuster had in acting as a check against a president stacking the federal courts.
“The Constitution gives the president the power to choose federal judges, but only with the ‘advice and consent’ of the Senate,” the board wrote on Friday. The article called the GOP’s newfound opposition to blue slips “hypocritical” in the headline. Ironically, with little regard to their own glaring hypocrisy.
“[T]he Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and it says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them,” the same editorial board wrote in their Nov. 2013 piece. The board’s grievances seem to be more about partisan politics than they are about preserving small “r” republicanism.
“From now on, voters will have to understand that presidents are likely to get their way on nominations if their party controls the Senate” the board continued. Now, to The Times, blue slips are an essential tool for the minority Party because “in this toxic, hyperpartisan age, there’s no simple way to force a president to listen.”
Many Americans come to expect partisanship from their elected officials. Often times, that’s exactly why they elected them. Journalism, however, demands accuracy, consistency, and integrity. And their willingness to join the partisan political fray is why so many Americas no longer trust the establishment media.
After the Democrats eliminated the filibuster in 2013, The Times understood that “the rule change could haunt the Democrats if they lost the White House and the Senate,” making their warning to the GOP on Friday that “[n]o majority lasts forever” even more ironic.
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