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

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures Top Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions MORE (D-Ohio) on Friday said he will not sign off on two of President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes Report faults 'broken' system for insulin price spikes 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 BaldwinSeven Senate races to watch in 2022 Senate Democrats urge Google to improve ad policies to combat election disinformation Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  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 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. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls Smith wins reelection in Minnesota Democrats expand Senate map, putting GOP on defense 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 MerkleyJeff MerkleyBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Flags, signs and other items left behind in Capitol riot to be preserved as historical artifacts Laptop stolen from Pelosi's office during Capitol riots MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes Biden plan would up extra unemployment benefit to 0 Report faults 'broken' system for insulin price spikes 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.