Senate confirms Trump judicial pick over objections of home-state senator

Senate confirms Trump judicial pick over objections of home-state senator
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The Senate approved one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE's circuit court nominees on Thursday over the objections of his home-state senator, Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Democratic senators press Amazon over injury rates MORE (D-Wis.).

Senators voted 49-46 to approve Michael Brennan's nomination to be a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Only a simple majority was needed to approve Brennan, who appeared to have a lock on confirmation after clearing a procedural hurdle earlier this week. 

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But the move enraged Democrats, who accused Republicans of bending the Senate's rules by voting on Brennan despite Baldwin not returning a "blue slip" on the nominee.

Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWhite House asking Congress for .5 billion to fight coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Agencies play catch-up over TikTok security concerns | Senate Dems seek sanctions on Russia over new election meddling | Pentagon unveils AI principles Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) called the action a "slap in the face" of Senate custom and bipartisanship. 

"How is Sen. Baldwin’s right to consult on judges for her state any less important than Sen. Johnson’s? It’s mind-bending hypocrisy. It’s an appalling double standard," he said.

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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Iowa) — and enforcement has varied over the year.

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Baldwin didn't return her blue slip for Brennan's nomination, saying he failed to win the support of a nominating commission. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Wis.) previously refused to return a blue slip for an Obama-nominee for the seat, Victoria Nourse. She eventually withdrew her nomination. 

Brennan is the second circuit judge the Republican Senate has confirmed over the objections of a home-state senator. 

The Senate confirmed David Stras to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in January, making him the first Trump nominee to be confirmed despite a missing blue slip.

Then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken blasts Susan Collins: She'll let Trump 'get away with anything' Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race Buttigieg proposes undoing SALT deduction cap MORE (D-Minn.) returned her blue slip.

Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students Trump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements MORE (D-Minn.), Franken's successor, voted against Stras's nomination. 

Grassley defended his decision to move forward with circuit court nominees even if home-state senators object.

"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 this week.