Republican-appointed judges are rolling back our rights at an alarming rate. In order to roll back this tide, we must confirm qualified jurists committed to equal justice – filling every vacant seat. 

The Senate’s blue slip policy allows home-state senators to signal their approval or disapproval of a judicial nominee appointed to a seat in their state by filling out and returning a blue slip of paper to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The SJC practice started as an informal courtesy to incentivize the President to collaborate with home state senators during the nominations process.

Today, it functions as a tool of obstruction: The blue slip empowers Republican senators to engage in bad-faith negotiations with the White House, delaying or outright blocking the nomination of judges to vacancies in their states. No matter where we live, we all deserve fair-minded judges who have demonstrated a commitment to equal justice and who understand the impact of the law and the needs of all of our communities. 

Republicans have weaponized the blue slip to deny the White House nominees and block highly qualified nominees from moving forward. While Democrats returned 130 blue slips for district court nominees during the Trump administration, Republicans have returned only 12 for Biden’s nominees in the first two years of his administration. Republicans have also used the threat of withholding blue slips to block the White House from even nominating fair-minded judges. The Alliance for Justice is calling for Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Durbin to eliminate consideration of the blue slip to prevent nominees from moving forward.  

…the process has morphed into a political tool of obstruction, asymmetrically used by Republicans to arbitrarily block a Democratic administration’s nominees and rob the federal judiciary of highly qualified, diverse, and fair-minded district court judges in certain states.

Resources on the need to end the blue slip:

Federal Judicial Nominations and the Storied History of the Senate’s Blue Slip Tradition (one-page summary)

AFJ fact sheet on the history of the blue slip (in depth)

Republican Blue Slip Obstructionism: Packing the Courts with Radical Conservative Judges (examples)

A letter from AFJ and more than 30 other organizations calling for reform to or elimination of the blue slip tradition

Congressional Black Caucus advocacy on the blue slip