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One Missing Blue Slip, One Big Problem For SC “Republicans”




|| By FITSNEWS ||  It’s called a “blue slip.”  And in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., it’s the difference between a judicial nomination proceeding – or being stopped dead in its tracks.

“Blue slips” refer to letters sent from the chairman of the U.S. Senate judiciary committee inviting U.S. Senators from the state of residence of a federal judicial nominee to provide their opinion on the nominee.

It’s a simple form: “Approve” or “oppose.”

This U.S. Senate tradition – dating back to the early part of the twentieth century – enables U.S. Senators to retain veto authority over federal judges nominated in their states.

Here’s an example of what one looks like …

(Click to enlarge)

blue slip

(Pic via)

The process is simple: Unless blue slips are returned in the affirmative, nominations go nowhere.  In fact if Senators want to block a judge, the tradition is for them to simply not return the form.  For example, when U.S. president Barack Obama nominated “thug life judgeAlison Lee to the federal bench –  he received zero of the two blue slips he needed to move her nomination forward.

Meaning U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott did not approve.

And so Lee’s nomination died.

Back in April, this website reported on S.C. Supreme Court justice Donald Beatty being vetted as Obama’s second choice.  Beatty’s nomination – which we wrote extensively on here – has near universal support in the Palmetto State.

“Beatty’s situation is interesting in that his supporters – and opponents – are lobbying equally hard for him to become a federal judge,” we wrote last September.

One reason?  A high-profile fight Beatty recently engaged in with the state’s solicitors, who are eager to see him removed from the state’s high court.  Several prominent plaintiff’s and defense attorneys have grumbled about Beatty, too.

“He’s been an absolute disaster,” one privately told us this week.

“Republicans” in the S.C. General Assembly are also eager to see Beatty go because it means they won’t have to make him the next chief justice of the state’s high court.  Or for that matter keep him on the court.

In fact they’re actively searching for a big name “Republican” candidate – i.e. current U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy – in the event they have to justify passing over Beatty, who is next in line for the position in terms of seniority.

But their hope is Beatty will get the federal nod … and they’ve convinced Graham to go along with Beatty’s nomination (in exchange for consideration regarding the next upcoming federal vacancy).

Standing in the way of all this scheming?  Tim Scott.

According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Scott is adamant in his refusal to endorse Beatty’s ascension to the federal bench.  In other words, there will be no blue slip coming from his office.

How come?

“Because Beatty is a bad judge and (Scott)’s not going to put him on the bench just to solve someone else’s political problem,” one source told us.  “Tim didn’t make the mess – he’s not going to clean it up.”

Well, well.  We don’t agree with Scott on everything, but those are damn good points … of course even if they weren’t it wouldn’t matter.  By virtue of his position, Scott can block the nomination.

Which is exactly what he’s doing.

In fact Scott’s refusal to budge on Beatty is complicating GOP plans … and the clock is ticking.

The 15-year reign of terror of current S.C. chief justice Jean Toal ends next month – at which point she will be replaced by longtime associate justice Costa Pleicones.  However Pleicones will serve for only one year due to his scheduled retirement.

That means lawmakers have to act fast to find an alternative to Beatty … because come next spring they will be voting on the board for the next chief justice.  And if a big name like Gowdy isn’t in the mix, the “conservative” General Assembly will wind up putting another raging liberal in charge of the judicial branch of government.