The DJ reports that at last week's ABTL-LA program, Justice Anthony Kennedy emphasized "the importance of civil discourse in preserving America's democracy and national identity in a time of global tumult, and in an era when technology allows people to bypass traditional institutions and structures like the press and speak directly to the masses."
"People look to America to see if freedom works, and if they see a hostile, fractious, divisive, inimical dialogue, they will not be impressed."
Also in today's DJ, Judge Milan Smith pens The Role of the Blue Slip, which notes the roughly 111 Article III vacancies on the lower federal courts, including four on the Ninth Circuit. He explains: "One of the few remaining procedural devices that can actually defeat a judicial nominee is the Senate Judiciary Committee's so-called 'blue-slip rule.'"
This is how it works. When the president nominates an individual to a U.S. district court or court of appeal, the Senate Judiciary Committee sends a letter on light blue paper to the two home-state senators (regardless of party) asking them to take a position on the nomination. The senators check off the appropriate box - either approve or disapprove - and the blue sheet of paper is returned to the staff of the Judiciary Committee. A negative blue slip (or the failure to return a blue slip) typically dooms a nomination, affording home-state senators a de facto veto over judicial nominees to seats within their state.
If Grassley continues to honor the blue-slip rule, the Arizona, California, Hawaii and Oregon senators will each have significant influence on the selection of the individuals who will be nominated to fill the vacancies on the 9th Circuit. In its current incarnation, the blue-slip rule affords them a de facto veto over anyone that President Donald Trump nominates to judgeships within their respective states, rendering the need for pre-nomination consultation with home-state senators particularly important. As history suggests, however, the blue-slip rule could transform in an instant. The rule's character and existence fall within the discretion of the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, in this tumultuous political environment, few of the Senate's traditions appear to be immune from change.
Finally, today's DJ also profiles LASC Commissioner Timothy Weiner. SCANworthy? You bet: The profile is titled An Appellate Veteran, LA County Commissioner Timothy Weiner Values Social Aspects of Job, and notes how he spent nearly his entire career in the state AG's office arguing and preparing appellate cases.
"It's very hard to get a sense or the feel of a courtroom from a cold record," Weiner said of his previous work. "One of the best parts of this job is getting to serve as the fact-finder because I get to make those credibility determinations, I get to observe people and their body language, how they're talking, who's representing their case."