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 TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE's circuit court nominees on Thursday over the objections of his home-state senator, Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems shift strategy on impeachment vote 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 SchumerKrystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments 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 GrassleyLighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal Bottom line Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' 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 JohnsonSenate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump 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 FrankenThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Take Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharPoll: Biden leads Democratic field, Warren drops to third place 'Minor league cities' need new federal partnership The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE (D-Minn.) returned her blue slip.

Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump On The Money: Fed faces crossroads as it weighs third rate cut | Dem presses Mnuchin on 'alleged rampant corruption' | Boeing chief faces anger at hearing | Trouble for House deal on Ex-Im Bank Democrats renew push for contractor back pay from government shutdown 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.