Republicans are using blue slips to create two disparate systems of justice
When we have to turn to our court system for help, we should be able to expect the same treatment no matter where we are. After all, our Constitution and civil rights laws are supposed to protect everyone. But increasingly, in red states, federal courts don’t protect people’s rights.
Republican abuse of the Senate “blue slip” process is creating two separate and unequal systems of justice in United States federal district courts.
Let’s talk about “blue slips”
When the president nominates someone to a federal district court, the chair of the Judiciary Committee asks the home state senators in writing if they support the nominee. This is done via a blue slip of paper, hence the name “blue slip.” This isn’t a Senate or committee rule, but simply a tradition the chair chooses to exercise. And Republican senators are using it to completely block the Senate from even considering judicial nominees in their states.
In so doing, they are blocking the appointment of federal judges who will protect the rights of all people in their states, not just wealthy people, corporate interests, and people with a particular subset of conservative Christian beliefs who support the Republican Party.
Why does it matter?
Federal district courts are crucial to providing access to justice for Americans. People enter the federal court system through the district courts. Around 400,000 cases are filed in district courts each year, compared to some 50,000 in the appeals courts and less than a hundred heard by the Supreme Court. About 80% of all federal cases are heard in district court, and most end there.
The way Republicans are abusing the blue slip has created serious inequalities between many red states and others where Democratic and Republican Senators have cooperated on nominations. In places where the Republicans fast-tracked Trump’s judicial nominees and are abusing the blue slip to block President Biden’s nominees, our rights and future are left in the hands of courts controlled by far-right zealots. This means that whether you get a fair hearing and a real chance at justice depends on where you live.
Without fair judges, there is no justice.
How you can take action
About People For the American Way
People For the American Way, a national progressive advocacy organization, inspires and mobilizes community and cultural leaders to advance Truth, Justice and the American Way. We convene courageous Americans, produce compelling media and organize campaigns to defend our democracy from authoritarian threats and advance America’s promise that everyone will enjoy freedom, safety and a vote that counts.