Dem senator won't return 'blue slip' for two Trump court picks
© Greg Nash

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Dayton Democrat launches challenge to longtime GOP rep Dayton mayor: Trump visit after shooting was 'difficult on the community' MORE (D-Ohio) on Friday said he will not sign off on two of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's judicial picks, escalating a long-simmering fight over nominations in the Senate. 

Brown said he will oppose the nominations of Chad Readler and Eric Murphy to serve on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

“I cannot support nominees who have actively worked to strip Ohioans of their rights. Special interests already have armies of lobbyists and lawyers on their side, they don’t need judges in their pockets," Brown said in a statement.

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Because Brown is the home state senator for both Readler and Murphy he will receive "blue slips" allowing him to indicate whether he supports the nominations. 

Jennifer Donohue, a spokeswoman for Brown, said that while the senator has not yet received the blue slips he does not plan to return them for either nominee. 

That will force Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation Trump health official: Controversial drug pricing move is 'top priority' Environmental advocates should take another look at biofuels MORE (R-Iowa) to decide if he will move forward with the nominations in the Judiciary Committee despite Brown's objections. 

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, the “blue slip,” to the Judiciary Committee.

But how strictly the precedent is followed is decided by the Judiciary Committee chairman — in this case, Grassley — and enforcement has varied over the years.

Donohue added that Brown "made very clear" to the White House that he couldn't support Readler or Murphy after meeting with them. 

"Senator Brown actively tried to work with the White House and offered alternative choices — including respected conservative lawyers. He remains willing to work with the White House on alternative candidates that he could support," she said.

Two of Trump's circuit court nominees have previously been confirmed by the Senate despite one of their home-state senators not returning a blue slip. 

Michael Brenna was confirmed to be a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last month despite objections from Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinTrade wars and the over-valued dollar Overnight Health Care: Senate panel advances drug pricing bill amid GOP blowback | House panel grills Juul executives | Trump gives boost to state drug import plans | Officials say new migrant kids' shelter to remain open but empty Senators vow to bring transparency to drug pricing MORE (D-Wis.), and David Stras was confirmed to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in January.

Then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Al Franken urges Trump to give new speech after shootings: 'Try to make it sound like you're sincere, even if you're not' MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithReid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Senate Democrats introduce bill to combat foreign influence campaigns Durbin says he has second thoughts about asking for Franken's resignation MORE (D-Minn.), Franken's successor, voted against Stras's nomination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also advanced Ryan Bounds's nomination this week to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, despite the opposition of both home-state  Democratic Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations Wyden calls for end to political ad targeting on Facebook, Google Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (Ore.).

Republicans are confirming Trump's circuit court nominees at a record pace. They are poised to confirm more appeals court picks for Trump during his first two years than other recent presidents got in the same time period. 

Grassley has defended his tactics, saying he will move forward with a circuit court pick when he feels like senators are trying to use the blue slip to obstruct Trump's nominees. 

"First, it is completely false that I have 'done away' with the blue-slip courtesy. My blue-slip policy is the same as all but two of my 18 predecessors," Grassley said last month.