In the tradition-bound rules of the U.S. Senate, federal judicial nominees have historically required support or at least the lack of opposition from home-state senators.
But it looks like Ryan Bounds, a federal prosecutor from Portland, whom President Donald Trump has nominated for a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, will get a Senate hearing May 9 despite opposition from U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
For judicial nominations, senators participate in what's known as the "blue-slip" process. If senators support a nominee, they return blue slips of paper to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee signaling their approval. If they withhold the blue slips—as Wyden and Merkley have done out of concern over, among other issues, conservative views Bounds expressed in writings while an undergraduate at Stanford—that's historically been enough to submarine a nomination. Not this year.
Wyden and Merkley, both Democrats, today blasted Senate President Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), for moving ahead with Bounds' confirmation hearing.
"For six years while Democrats controlled the Senate and President Obama was in office, no judicial nominee moved forward over the objections of the home state Senators. Refusing to play by the rules when the rules don't suit you is bad enough, but in government it fuels cynicism, partisanship, and public disgust," Wyden and Merkley said in a joint statement.