Al Franken tried playing hardball with President Trump’s judicial nominations. This morning, he found out what it’s like to be part of the minority party. That’s because Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said that “Republicans will scrap the chamber’s ‘blue slip’ tradition, eliminating a tool of the minority to block the executive’s judicial nominees.”
Fred Barnes’ article highlights the steps that Sen. McConnell will implement to get President Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed. They include confirming “judicial nominees has been elevated to a top priority in the Senate. ‘I decide the priority,’ McConnell said in an interview.” Further, Sen. McConnell said that “Republicans will treat a blue slip ‘as simply notification of how you’re going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball.'”
This won’t sit well with Democrats. It’s likely that Sen. Franken will be particularly upset because he spent lots of political capital fighting “David Stras’ nomination to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last month.” Now all he’s got to show for his efforts is a reputation as a partisan hack and a bruised ego.
This isn’t just about losing this fight. It’s about the fact that retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page joined with other justices in writing this glowing op-ed. It opens by saying this:
To U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer:
We write to urge that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. Senate act expeditiously to confirm the nomination of Minnesota Associate Supreme Court Justice David R. Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Stras has all the attributes and qualifications necessary to make an excellent circuit court judge. We have firsthand knowledge that this is true given that we served with him as justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Stras’ résumé sets out the most obvious of his outstanding qualifications that led to his nomination for a seat on the circuit court. He has an excellent academic record, both as a student and professor; experience as a judicial law clerk at the highest levels; experience with a firm engaged in the private practice of law, and excellent research and writing skills as demonstrated by his frequent lectures, scholarly articles and judicial opinions.
Alan Page isn’t just a retired justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He’s easily the most liberal justice on the bench in the last 25+ years. When Franken is up for re-election in 2020, I’d recommend that the GOP candidate use this episode to illustrate just how hyperpartisan Sen. Franken is. Thanks to Sen. Franken’s intransigence, the Senate had to change their methods to get this qualified justice confirmed to the federal bench: