From the New York Times:
The decision by Senate Democrats to eliminate filibusters for most judicial nominations only marginally enhanced President Obama’s power to reshape the judiciary, according to court watchers from across the political spectrum, because Republican senators can still veto his nominees to most currently vacant appeals court seats.
The new Senate rule clears the way for eight appeals court nominees who have already had confirmation hearings to win approval with simple majority votes, including three on the powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reviews federal policies and regulations. But it left unchanged the Senate’s “blue slip” custom, which allows senators to block nominees to judgeships associated with their states.
“It is hard to overstate the change’s importance for the D.C. Circuit, which has a disproportionate impact on the world, but it won’t have overwhelming impact elsewhere,” Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel, said in an interview. “The blue slip rule for judges has been more problematic than the filibuster, in part because it is a silent, unaccountable veto.” . . .
After the vote to change the filibuster rule, Mr. Leahy reiterated his support for the blue slip rule. Still, he also said he could change his mind if it were abused — without defining “abuse.” . . .
“Some Democratic appointees may be more attracted to retiring in this window because they have more confidence that Obama will be able to appoint a young successor,” he said. . . .
The "blue slip" rule won't help stop nonjudicial nominations. I should also note that the "blue slip" rule has been changed in the past. Sometimes it has required that both Senators from a state use their "blue slip," but at other times it has only required one Senator doing it.
Labels: Nuclear Option, obamajudicialappointments