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 TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE's circuit court nominees on Thursday over the objections of his home-state senator, Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinFederal funding for Chinese buses risks our national security Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall The Trump downturn: Trouble ahead for the US economy 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. 

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 SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' 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 GrassleyGOP braces for impeachment brawl PhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe MORE (R-Iowa) — and enforcement has varied over the year.

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 Johnson10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl Bipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats 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 FrankenTake Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Analysis: Warren and Booker most cyber-aware 2020 candidates Poll: Democratic support for Warren climbs to record high MORE (D-Minn.) returned her blue slip.

Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions Planned Parenthood issues first wave of 2020 House, Senate 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.