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 TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE's circuit court nominees on Thursday over the objections of his home-state senator, Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinConservative who's faced Kavanaugh accuser's lawyer calls her fair and reasonable Trump calls Kavanaugh accusations ‘totally political’ Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests 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, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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 GrassleyFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw 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 JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills 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 FrankenNelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity Sexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls MORE (D-Minn.) refused to return his blue slip on Stras's nomination. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat MORE (D-Minn.) returned her blue slip.

Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Farm bill must protect working lands conservation programs Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates 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.