The Democratic Party’s abuse of Senate rules to obstruct President Donald Trump’s nominees have become so petty and absurd that it’s time for Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to put a stop to it, The Wall Street Journal editorial board declared on Wednesday.
The editorial cites Minnesota Democrat Al Franken’s refusal to return his “blue slip” on the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Blue slips are a bipartisan tradition whereby senators can block votes on nominees to the lower federal courts from their home states and were once reserved for nominees with ethical baggage.
But the editorial states that Franken has turned the procedure into a sham. Stras is held in high esteem across Minnesota legal circles, including earning the highest rating from the liberal American Bar Association, and even Franken has been unable to come up with a flaw in his legal record.
That, however, has not stopped Franken from trying to disqualify Stras due to his choice of those he admires. Stras has called Justice Clarence Thomas a role model and worked as a law clerk for him, and Stras also “talked about how the jurisprudence of Justice [Antonin] Scalia helped to shape his own views.”
The editorial criticized the absurdity of disqualifying someone who admires widely esteemed Senate-confirmed Supreme Court justices and pointed out that “Trump was elected in part on an explicit promise to appoint judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia, so the Franken standard pre-emptively disqualifies any Trump nominee.”
There is no reason for Grassley to stand for this nonsense, the editorial stated. He has the authority under Senate rules to suspend the blue-slip tradition on a case-by-case basis, as other judiciary chairmen have done in the past.
The editorial added that the Democrats’ frustration over how the Republican-controlled Senate refused to even give a hearing to President Barack Obama’s nominee Neil Gorsuch “doesn’t give them the right to block a president’s nominees merely because a left-wing senator thinks someone admires the wrong justices.”