Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Kennedy: Americans deserve a say over their district court judges

by BIZ Magazine

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) penned this op-ed in The Hill on Sunday defending the blue slip nomination process for district court judges.

Kennedy also highlighted the success of district court nominee Darrel Papillion, a Louisiana nominee who received blue slips from both Republican senators and sailed through the Judiciary Committee vote last week, earning bipartisan support.

Below are key excerpts:

“[T]he blue slip isn’t about dunking on the opposition. The blue slip is one of the only ways that citizens have a say—through their elected senators—in who gets to call the legal balls and strikes in their communities.”

Trust in our judicial system depends on these judges’ being highly qualified. That means knowing legal procedure and constitutional rights inside and out. These judges must also have the appropriate judicial temperament to ensure every citizen receives a fair trial. Republican and Democratic senators alike should be loath to leave this responsibility to unelected bureaucrats in the White House Counsel’s Office who don’t know or understand the people we represent.

While I believe my colleagues on both sides of the aisle take the responsibility of confirmation seriously, the majority party can get tunnel vision when trying to rush through the president’s nominees. I’ve served during Republican and Democrat White Houses, and I know that presidents from both parties have nominated some duds. The stakes for green-lighting a questionable candidate may seem low, but bad judges have real consequences. No one wants to find themself fighting for their freedom before a judge who thinks the U.S. Constitution is the name of a ship.

“Senators can’t afford to overlook unqualified nominees because we are accountable first and foremost to the people of our state—the same people who suffer at the hands of biased or untalented appointees. If a bad judge lands on a district court in Louisiana, that judge can oversee a lifetime appointment’s worth of injustices. And that can do irreparable damage to the people who sent me to be their voice.”

“The blue slip process encourages bipartisan cooperation. Our deference to the people of our respective states forces any White House to prioritize the qualifications and judicial temperament of nominees rather than bending the knee to activists or privileging people with political connections. The blue slip process makes our court system fairer and stronger. And that’s good for our democracy.”

Read Kennedy’s full op-ed here.  

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