Justice Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation process exacerbated the striking divisiveness, rampant partisanship, and stunning paybacks that have systematically plagued the federal judicial selection process. The Senate basically ended any true debate when the Republican majority peremptorily detonated the “nuclear option” for Supreme Court nominees. This measure limited filibusters regarding all judicial nominees, allowing a simple majority ballot to confirm a nominee. One century-long practice that does remain is the “blue slip.” Under Senate tradition, whenever the President submits a federal district or appeals court nominee, the Judiciary Committee Chair sends a blue slip of paper to each senator who represents the state in which the nominee will sit, and those senators can delay the nomination by refusing to return the slip. However, recent changes in the blue slip practice by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), powerful support for Grassley’s perspectives regarding slips from many Republican senators, and new threats by other GOP members to abrogate or change blue slips merit scrutiny. Elimination or alteration could jeopardize the Senate’s discharge of its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on presidential nominees and undermine the institution itself.
Carl Tobias, Senate Blue Slips and Senate Regular Order, Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. Inter Alia (11/20/2018), https://ylpr.yale.edu/inter_alia/senate-blue-slips-and-senate-regular-order.