- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2017

Two Democratic lawmakers said they’ll flex senatorial privilege to block one of President Trump’s judicial nominations, erecting yet another roadblock as the White House tries to reshape the federal courts.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley said they won’t return their “blue slips” signaling acquiescence in the nomination of Ryan Bounds, Mr. Trump’s pick for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Blue slips are a Senate tradition, giving senators a sort of veto over judicial picks from their home states. If both senators from a state don’t return the blue slips, the Judiciary Committee usually declines to hold confirmation hearings, effectively scuttling the nomination.

The tradition is designed to get senators’ input on such decisions.

“Instead, you have demonstrated that you were only interested in our input if we were willing to preapprove your preferred nominees,” Mr. Wyden and Mr. Merkley wrote in a letter to White House counsel.

The blue slip has become the most effective tool Democrats have to obstruct Mr. Trump’s court nominees, after Democrats themselves triggered the nuclear option in 2013 to curtail the power to filibuster judicial picks.

SEE ALSO: Feinstein demands GOP follow ‘blue slip’ tradition for Trump’s nominees

Nan Aron, president of the progressive Alliance for Justice, said more Democratic senators should show the same strength as Mr. Wyden and Mr. Merkley did in withholding blue slips.

“This is especially important at a time when the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans seem bent on upending time-tested traditions, and sacrificing Senate comity, in order ram through a slate of ultraconservative judicial nominees,” said Ms. Aron.

Earlier in the week, Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, became the first to announce he won’t be returning his blue slip for Mr. Trump’s 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras.

In light of the move by Mr. Franken, conservative advocacy groups are putting pressure on Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, to move ahead with the nominees despite the blue slip tradition.

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