U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is incensed that President Donald Trump may be able to nominate and confirm 11 conservative federal California judges without her permission.
Dianne Feinstein may be in the biggest political battle in her 25-year career in the U.S. Senate after being viciously shamed by the left for her recent Donald Trump comment: “I just hope he has the ability to learn and change — and if he can, he can be a good president.”
As a result, she is now facing a 2018 primary challenge by progressive California Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), and the California Democrat leadership is considering requiring incumbents to win 60 percent of state delegates to gain the party’s endorsement.
President Donald Trump has been very successful in nominating and having the U.S. Senate confirm eight judges to the United States Courts of Appeals and five judges to the United States District Courts. The President has also nominated ten judges to the Courts of Appeals and thirty-five to the District Courts who are now awaiting Senate action.
But the president has avoided making nominations for eight U.S. Courts of Appeals and 83 U.S. District Court spots over concerns regarding the 100-year-old “courtesy” that allows a U.S. Senator to blackball the nominee for his/her state by refusing to return a “blue slip” to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee recommending that the nominee is “qualified.”
With two Democrat Senators from California, and Feinstein in trouble with her party, Trump has not made nominations for any of the eleven vacant federal judgeships for California, including four on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, six on the Central District of Los Angeles, and one on the Southern District that covers San Diego and Imperial counties.
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Politico on November 16 that he may not follow the “blue slip” courtesy for future judicial nominees.
Feinstein, the top ranking Democratic Party Senator on the Judiciary Committee, hit the media to impugn Grassley for submarining the independence of federal judges by allowing “outside the mainstream” nominees. “The lengths to which Republicans are going to jam extremely conservative and controversial nominees through the Senate is unprecedented,” she said in a widely reported statement.
Although no judicial nominee has been confirmed without blue slip approval from both home state Senators since 1989, Feinstein gave a June 2001 Senate speech stating that she “would move to abolish the blue slip,” because it was wrong that a single Senator had the power to “stop a nomination dead in its tracks.”
Two years later, Feinstein flipped back to join her California colleague, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), to issue blue slips opposing Republican President George W. Bush’s nomination of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Feinstein claimed that Kuhl, while at the Department of Justice, supported racist and anti-abortion policies. Although Grassley ignored the blue slips and allowed Kuhl’s nomination to clear the Republican-controlled committee, the nomination failed to override a Democrat filibuster by seven votes.
In 2013, Feinstein was crucial to Senate Democrats’ decision to dump the ilibuster rule for judicial nominees on a party-line vote. Feinstein justified her action by stating that “frustration just overwhelms” in dealing with conservative Republicans.