But that story ignores a bigger and longer-lasting development in the federal judiciary. That brings us first to naming the Republican gift giver: Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa. The longtime member of Congress has big time clout as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Grassley has just used that clout to eliminate one of the final hurdles in the already furious pace of Trump administration judicial appointments to the federal bench.
Late last week, Grassley decided not to honor a Senate tradition of holding up hearings for judicial nominees who aren’t cleared by their own home state senators. That tradition is known as the “blue slip courtesy” born out of time before nationwide communication technology when a given state’s senators had access to much more information about nominees than their colleagues from the rest of the country. Grassley correctly noted that Democrats were now trying to use the blue slips tradition to replace the filibuster, and he’s having none of that. As recently as last month, the Democrats and much of the news media’s punditry were expecting Grassley, who is no fan of the president, to keep the blue slip tradition in place. But Grassley gave Trump this very special gift instead.