The conservative Judicial Crisis Network said Wednesday it’s running an ad in Minnesota targeting Democratic Sen. Al Franken for refusing to back one of President Trump’s federal court judges, telling the senator to “stop being petty” and “grow up.”
Mr. Franken announced last week he won’t return his “blue slip” for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, Mr. Trump’s nominee for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Under Senate tradition, the chamber won’t proceed on a judicial nominee unless both home-state senators return their blue slips, signifying acquiescence in the pick.
“Justice David Stras earned more votes and a higher percentage of the vote statewide than Senator Al Franken did,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, who successfully backed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation earlier this year.
Her organization’s 30-second digital ad will run statewide, while the television ad will air on CNN and MSNBC for two weeks.
Mr. Franken said he opposed the nominee because Justice Stras looks to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia as role models.
“I am concerned that a nominee nurtured by such an ideology would likely seek to impose it on the litigants before him,” Mr. Franken said in a press release announcing his decision.
Because senators are left without the option to filibuster federal judges, the “blue slip” has become a way for Democrats to block the president’s nominees. There are currently 144 federal judicial vacancies for Mr. Trump to fill.
On Friday, Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon said they won’t return their blue slips for Ryan Bounds, a nominee to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, because they weren’t consulted prior to the nomination.
A White House official told The Washington Times Mr. Bounds is “extraordinarily qualified,” having spent the past seven years as a federal prosecutor in Oregon.
“We are hopeful the Oregon senators will agree that Mr. Bounds is an excellent choice for the federal bench and soon decide to support him,” the official said.
Ms. Severino and other allied conservative organizations are calling for Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, to move forward with the nominations despite the Democratic senators’ attempt to halt the process.
Mr. Grassley said earlier this year the blue slip tradition has generally been honored for district court judges rather than circuit court judges, but he hasn’t commented on what he plans to do with Mr. Bounds and Justice Stras now that their blue slips are officially being withheld.
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