“I assume no one will abuse the blue slip process like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the Senate,” he said in a statement. “As long as the blue slip process is not being abused by home-state senators, then I will see no reason to change that tradition.”
Sigh. As Savage details, the blue slip rule is almost certainly already being abused–why else would the vast majority of empty appellate and district court seats be in states with at least one Republican senator? (Texas alone has seven vacancies.)
I see no remotely justifiable policy reason to give senators a veto over all judgeships in their state. But the real reason to ditch rules like this is counterfactual. Imagine that Republicans again gain control of the presidency and the Senate. You think stuff like the blue slip rule will survive for a single microsecond if it stands in the way of appointing Eugene Scalia (son of you-know-who) to the federal bench? Of course not.
In fact, at this point there is no reason not to bust out the big red pencil on the Senate rulebook and dramatically reduce the potential for obstruction. The recent filibuster reform, for instance, only reduced the number needed to break one to 51 votes. You still have to file cloture petitions and let them “ripen,” an absurd procedure which takes at least three days to carry out. Given how very little time Congress actually spends in session, this can easily eat up weeks. (While we’re at it, Senate holds should go too.)
If a majority of the Senate agrees to stop debate, then any particular vote should take about as long as it takes 100 people to say either “yea” or “nay” in succession. Thirty minutes ought to be more than enough.
Democrats have already acknowledged the obvious fact that Republicans are hell bent on using any procedural measure whatsoever to gum up Obama’s presidency– the vote to finally reform the filibuster proved that. There is no reason to get cold feet now, should further reform be necessary.