In recent weeks Alabamians have seen numerous articles appearing across the state that suggest Senator Shelby can single handedly block the appointment of thenew Middle District United States Attorney by turning in a blue slip. For this reason I decided to research the Senate Blue Slip to see if this was true and found it was not the truth.
What I found is thatthe Senate Blue Slip is an opinion written by a Senatorfrom the state of the residence of a federal judicial position nominee such as United States Attorneys. Apparently, both Senators any time thereis a new appointment are sent a blue slip to fill out to tell their fellow Senators what they think about the appointment. At that point, they are able to submit a favorable report and opinion or an unfavorable report and opinion of a nominee. They may also choose to not return the blue slip at all. It is then the option of the Senate Judiciary Commitee to determine what weight they will give the blue slip when considering whether or not to recommend to the Senate to confirm a nominee. This is considered just a senatorial courtesy. What this is not is a unilateral right for a Senator to be vexatious in the appointment of a judicial position nominee.
In fact, during President Bush's reign a law professor at Cumberland University in Alabama named Brandon Denny, wrote an article called, "The Blue Slip: Enforcing the Norms of Judicial Confirmation Process". The article appeared in The Williams and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 10, 2001. In that article Professor Denny very accurately stated, "that the Executive Branch needs to take a more active role in identifying what is perceived to be an abuse of procedure during a confirmation process." What he meant by that was that we cannot allow Senators to abuse the blue slip processto allow perfectly good nominees to be denied and that the Executive Branch should take active steps to notify the public when a Senator is abusing the procedure of blue slips just to get his way.
It is clear that in Alabama today we have that very situtation. Richard Shelby took weeks to object, so we have been told, to Mr. Joe Van Heest. However, the White House has not released what Mr. Shelby put in his blue slip when he objected to Mr. Joe Van Heest. The White House should tell the Democrats in Alabama who helped in electing them what Senator Richard Shelby put in his objection to Mr. Joe Van Heest. If Mr. Shelby is just objecting without having made a formal report then he is clearly perverting the process of the blue slip he should be made to tell why he is objecting and it should be a good reason.This thwarting of the process is allowing a good nominee to be denied all because a Republician Senator is being allowed to run roughshod over the White House.
Surely, President Obama is not going to allow a little senator from Alabama to tell him not to appoint a good candidate who is approved by both Alabama Democrat groups that made recommendations for the appointment.
Additionally, Jeff Sessions supposedly objected to Michel Nicrosi. I am calling for the White House to alsosee that we are released the reasons in the blue slip for Jeff Sessions oppostion toher.
One has to wonder what on earth is going on in the White House. Aretheybeing held hostage from appointing a United States Attorney by two little senators in Alabama from theRepublician party? Clearly the newscoming out of Washington today that they may appoint Tamara Matthews Johnson is unsettling considering that she clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who was a Reagan Republician appointee and was a key member in Alice Martin's legal team that repeatedly targeted Democrats in political cases .
It is time for all the Democrats in America to call Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, and demand that he take steps to prove to the Democrats in Alabama that the White House is standing up to the two Republician Senators who are abusing the blue slip system to defeat two perfectly good nominees for the United States Middle District. Please tell him we want Obama to push one of these nominees.