Lambda Legal: Chairman Grassley and Senate Judiciary GOP Bulldoze Judicial Nomination Process to Stack Federal Courts with Extremist Nominees

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November 29, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on two judicial nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench: Kyle Duncan for the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and David Stras for the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The hearing is taking place as a result of Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley breaking with precedent to override the “blue slip” process, which traditionally gives the Senators from each nominee’s home state the opportunity to weigh in on the nomination and prevent them from moving forward by refusing to return the blue slip. Senator Franken (D-MN) refused to turn in his blue slip for David Stras, and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) turned in a negative blue slip for Kyle Duncan.

Lambda Legal has opposed the nominations of both Kyle Duncan and David Stras, and Lambda’s Director of Strategy, Sharon McGowan, issued the following statement on the hearing.

“There is precedent for a reason. When the President nominates someone for a lifetime appointment, that will outlast any administration, then the Senate has a responsibility to ensure that person is deserving of that position. That includes the blue slip process, which gives Senators from each nominee’s home state the privilege to have first say on each nominee before they are considered by the Judiciary Committee. When the process is working as it should, a negative blue slip or a refusal to return a blue slip would stop a nomination from moving forward, and demand a better, more deserving nominee for this lifetime position.

“However, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, like many of his colleagues in the GOP leadership and Trump administration, has shown a total disregard and lack of respect for any precedent. He has abdicated his responsibility as a United States Senator to simply become a rubber stamp for Donald Trump, jamming through nominee after nominee without a care for how heinously anti-LGBT, anti-women, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-civil rights their record has been proven. That could not be clearer today as he has ignored the blue slip process and moved forward with hearings for Kyle Duncan and David Stras. It could not be clearer this week more broadly as the Senate confirmed Trump’s own Deputy White House Counsel to the powerful DC Circuit, and as the Judiciary Committee continues to vote on and hold hearings on nominees like Steven Grasz, Mark Norris, and Don Willett.

“These nominees have extremist records that have been presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Any Senator that actually takes a look will see that these nominees are a threat to the LGBT community, our relationships, our families, and our children, as well as all Americans who rely on a fair and impartial judiciary. The process is in place so that nominees like these do not get handed a lifetime appointment. With the process being decimated by Chairman Grassley, it is up to the other Senators on the Judiciary Committee to take a stand and not allow these nominees to move any further forward.”


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