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 TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 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.


But how strictly the precedent is upheld is decided by the Judiciary Committee chairman — in this case, Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation 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 FrankenHarrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOpen-ended antitrust is an innovation killer FBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot Five big takeaways on the Capitol security hearings 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 SmithSenator notices mismatching shoes at trial: 'I had a lot on my mind' Overnight Energy: Biden administration delays Trump rollback of migratory bird protections | Democrats seek to block further Arctic drilling | Democratic senator pushes for clean electricity standard Democratic senator pushes for clean electricity standard 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 SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill 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 McConnellThe bizarre back story of the filibuster The Bible's wisdom about addressing our political tribalism Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' 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