- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Senate confirmed another one of President Trump’s Circuit Court nominees on Tuesday over “blue slip” protests from Democrats, who said the nominee never should have been given a hearing, let alone a vote.

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras was confirmed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 56 to 42 vote, becoming Mr. Trump’s 13th Circuit Court pick to clear the Senate.

But Democrats said Justice Stras was only placed on the federal bench after Republicans disregarded the “blue slip” tradition, which allows home state senators to sign off on judges from their home states.

“This is a major step back, and another way that the majority is slowly, inexorably, gnawing away at the way this body works and making it more and more like the House of Representatives,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Monday.

The blue-slip tradition has emerged as an arcane but important fight in the battle over Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees. Blue slips are signs that home-state senators consent to a pick. Under the tradition, some chairman had declined to move forward with nominees unless both senators from a state returned their slips, signaling consent.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, returned her blue slip for Justice Straus, but former Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, did not.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, decided to give Justice Stras a confirmation hearing despite only one blue slip being returned.

“A negative or unreturned blue slip won’t necessarily prevent a Circuit Court nominee from receiving a hearing, unless the White House failed to consult with home-state senators,” Mr. Grassley said last week.

Mr. Schumer said Justice Stras is the first Circuit Court nominee since 1982 to be confirmed without both home state senators returning their blue slip.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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