Senate confirms Trump nominee despite missing 'blue slip'
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The Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm an appellate court pick for President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE despite one of the nominee's home-state senators not returning a blue slip.

Senators voted 56-42 on David Stras's nomination to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, making him the first Trump nominee to be confirmed despite a missing blue slip.

The “blue-slip” rule — a precedent upheld by Senate tradition — has historically allowed a home-state senator to stop a lower-court nominee by refusing to return a sheet of paper, known as a blue slip, to the Judiciary Committee.

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But how strictly the precedent is upheld is decided by the Judiciary Committee chairman — in this case, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting Senate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (R-Iowa) — and enforcement has fluctuated depending on who controls the panel.

Grassley sparked a political firestorm when he announced late last year that he would move forward with Stras even though then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Franken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Election security bill picks up new support in Senate Senate must approve Justice Served Act to achieve full potential of DNA evidence MORE (D-Minn.) returned her blue slip.

The Alliance for Justice noted that Stras is the first circuit court judge to be confirmed despite a missing blue slip in more than 80 years. 

Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithCVS Health CEO 'surprised' by Azar's comments on drug prices Overnight Health Care: Kentucky gov cancels Medicaid dental, vision benefits | Collins voices skepticism court will overturn Roe v. Wade | Dems press 'middlemen' on drug costs Pair of Dem senators probe drug pricing 'middlemen,' distributors over high costs MORE (D-Minn.), Franken's successor, voted against Stras's nomination. 

Democrats have repeatedly ripped Grassley for moving forward with Trump's judicial picks despite opposition from home-state senators.

"Democratic and Republican chairs have stuck to the blue slip rule, despite the tensions in this body. So this is a major step back — another way that the majority is slowly and inexorably gnawing away at the way this body works and making it more and more and more like the House of Representatives," said Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Judge Kavanaugh confounds the left This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (D-N.Y.). 

Grassley announced in November that he had scheduled a hearing on Stras and Kyle Duncan, nominated to serve on the 5th Circuit. Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) did not return a positive blue slip for Duncan.

Both Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE (R-Ky.) praised Stras this week. 

"I am convinced Justice Stras will rule fairly and impartially, finding and applying the law as written, not legislating from the bench," Grassley said. 

– Lydia Wheeler contributed