Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell found common ground with President Trump Monday on judicial nominations, saying the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch is the White House’s best accomplishment so far.
In a joint appearance with Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell also criticized the Senate’s “blue slip” tradition that Democrats are using to try to derail some of Mr. Trump’s lower federal court picks.
“A blue slip on a circuit judge is simply a notification of how you are going to vote. To conclude otherwise would have left us in the following position…48 Democratic senators would have been able to blackball 62 percent of the circuit judge nominees. That’s simply not an attainable place to land,” Mr. McConnell said.
The blue slip process is a Senate tradition that gives home-state senators a special role in filling judicial vacancies associated with their states. Generally the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t proceeding with a nominee unless both home-state senators return a card, the blue slip, signaling acquiescence in the pick.
Whether or not to uphold the blue slip process is traditionally determined by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, hasn’t yet decided what he will do.
Mr. McConnell is largely responsible for Justice Gorsuch, after refusing to give a floor vote to President Obama’s pick for the high court vacancy last year, leaving the post open for the new president to fill. Then, after Mr. Trump’s surprise victory, Mr. McConnell followed Democrats’ lead and triggered the nuclear option to alter filibuster rules for the Supreme Court, installing Justice Gorsuch by majority vote.
“The single most significant thing this president has done to change America is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court,” Mr. McConnell said.