HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT IN THE 9TH CIRCUIT - The monumental fight to end liberal dominance and political activist judges demonstrates Senator Feinstein's duplicity
Here's our motivation for this article - a Fox News item detailing Senator Dianne Feinstein's frustration with the Senate's "blue slip" process for President Trump's judiciary nominations; especially those to the 9th Circuit. As will be demonstrated below, this isn't news. Feinstein has working to nuance matter this for a long while. Here's the Fox piece: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/feinstein-fumes-as-trump-administration-pushes-forward-with-9th-circuit-nominees-without-consulting-her
Let's get to it.
Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, D-CA knew from the moment Donald J. Trump was elected that the liberal bastion of the 9th Circuit was in peril. How do we know that? Take a look at the number of press releases she's issued (list below) in an attempt to nuance the scenario in her (the Left's) favor using circular logic and handpicking when the historic 'blue slip' tradition is important and deserves fidelity and when it is not and does not, respectively.
If you're unfamiliar, the blue slip process generally works as follows. Historically, when a president makes nominations for seats (for a federal judgeship), two significant legislative protocols traditionally occur. First, the American Barr Association (ABA) and it's full Standing Committee will conduct a review and issue a rating as "well qualified," "qualified" or "not qualified." That rating and review is then provided to the Senate.
To learn more:
1. The ABA's Standing Committee: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/federal_judiciary/about_us/
2. The ABA's ratings process: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/federal_judiciary/ratings/
The next step is the time-honored (most of the time) Senate "blue slip" process, which entails receiving the ABA's ratings and reviews for each nominee whereby both senators from the state in which the judge will be seated sign-off on the nomination with approval thus demonstrating bipartisan fidelity in the nomination process. It's a mechanism to allow the home state senators a voice and limited control over which judges are seated in the state they represent. Importantly, for a politically motivated cadre of legislators, blue slips also provide an opportunity to delay and obstruct the process as you will see in one press release below whereby Feinstein defends against precisely that allegation. To learn more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_slip
The blue slip process and the ABA ratings are all fine and dandy right up until politics raises its head and, ironically in the spirit of bipartisanship, the politicians actually make it a partisan issue, which it always is. The other caveat is this undeniable truth - like any other significant and broad-based association affiliated with the federal government, it's inherently political and as one might imagine, it's a liberal or left-leaning institution. Aren't they all?
Conceding that the personal political beliefs of the ABA's full Standing Committee are unknown, we can speculate to a degree with a simple red state/blue state analysis: UT (red), ME (blue), NY (blue), VI (blue), SC (red), MS (red), OH (red), WI (red), AR (red), MT (red), CA (blue), CO (blue), GA (red), DC (blue) and NY (blue) - 8 red, 7 blue. Although it's a plus-one advantage red according to the 2016 election map (https://www.270towin.com/maps/2016-actual-electoral-map), it should be noted that WI and OH are battleground states with significant Democratic political influence and should actually be regarded as "purple" at best, thus shifting the committee blue at face value. Moreover, here's a quotation from Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-OK in an August 23, 2018 article that will be referenced in further discussion below, "Nobody really puts much weight on the ABA. They are a liberal group, a biased group..." (Tulsa World source linked below.)
Here is the Standing Committees full membership: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/federal_judiciary/about_us/members/
Now, let's examine the approach of ranking member Feinstein. Here's list of press releases whereby she has worked to nuance this critical transition. There is no question she saw this fight coming and she dug-in from the onset. The message from Feinstein is very clear hear and this will resound in our conclusion below. Simply, the ABA and blue slip process are absolutely critical - just examine the Feinstein's press releases:
1. May 24, 2017 - "Setting the record straight on judicial nominees and blue slip"
2. June 14, 2017 - "Feinstein Speaks on Importance of Senators on Judicial Nominations"
3. June 22, 2017 - "Judiciary Democrats: Allow ABA to Review Potential Judges Before Hearings"
4. June 28, 2017 - "Feinstein Speaks on Importance of ABA on Judicial Nominations"
5. July 12, 2017 - "Feinstein: Protect Senate ‘Advise-and-Consent’ Role on Judicial Nominees"
6. July 13, 2017 - "Feinstein Sets the Record Straight on Blue Slip, Speaks Against Right-Wing Nominees"
7. August 24, 2017 - "Feinstein on Ninth Circuit Split: Unnecessary, Needless Waste of Taxpayer Dollars"
8. September 05, 2017 - "Feinstein Statement on Importance of Blue Slips"
9. September 25, 2017 - "Feinstein: Protect Senate Power on Judicial Nominees"
10. October 16, 2017 - "Feinstein: Democrats Vetting Trump Nominees, No Obstruction"
11. November 02, 2017 - "Feinstein Statement on Judicial Nominees"
12. November 16, 2017 - "Feinstein on Grassley Blue Slip Decision"
13. November 17, 2017 - "Judiciary Democrats Denounce Grassley Blue Slip Decision"
14. November 29, 2017 - "Feinstein Speaks in Support of Blue Slip Policy"
15. November 29, 2017 - "Explaining the Senate’s Blue Slip Process"
16. January 24, 2018 - "Feinstein on Grassley Decision to Ignore Baldwin Blue Slip: “I Really Object To This”"
17. March 30, 2018 - "Feinstein on Passing of Judge Reinhardt, Ninth Circuit Vacancies"
18. May 04, 2018 - "Feinstein Opposes Hearing for Nominee Without Any Blue Slips"
19. October 11, 2018 - "Feinstein on Ninth Circuit Nominees"
20. October 24, 2018 - "Feinstein on Nominations Hearing"
21. November 13, 2018 - "Judiciary Democrats to Grassley: Hold Additional Hearings for Nominees Considered During Recess"
22. November 13, 2018 - "Feinstein Calls for Judiciary Committee Hearings with Whitaker, Sessions"
23. November 19, 2018 - "Feinstein, Harris to White House: Work Toward Consensus Ninth Circuit Package"
24. January 29, 2019 - "Feinstein Speaks On Barr Nomination, Judicial Nominees"
25. January 30, 2019 - "Feinstein, Harris on Ninth Circuit Nominees"
26. March 07, 2019 - "Feinstein Speaks on Blue Slips, Ninth Circuit Nominees"
27. March 11, 2019 - "Feinstein, Harris Call For Withdrawal of Kenneth Lee nomination to the Ninth Circuit"
28. March 13, 2019 - "Feinstein Speaks on Controversial Ninth Circuit Nominees"
29. March 28, 2019 - "Feinstein Urges Return to Blue Slip Tradition"
It's difficult to argue that Feinstein didn't see this coming and that her fight is anything but admirable although rooted in less than honest notions. That said, it's clear and irrefutable that Feinstein seeks to preserve the "blue slip" process given her staunch stance on it as well as her legislative record; including 29 press releases on the matter between the dates of May 24, 2017 and March 28, 2019.
Wait, though. What's this? Is this evidence of circular logic and partisan politics manifesting as Feinstein contradicting herself on the very same topic? Can you imagine a politician telling you what you need to hear, when you need to hear it and in total disregard of her own previous contradictory statements on the precise same topic? No, you don't say!
Well, here Feinstein does just that. Consider this brief article out of Tulsa, OK pertaining to an ABA rating for a Tulsa attorney's nomination for a federal judgeship: https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/government-and-politics/bar-association-rating-may-not-derail-tulsa-attorney-s-nomination/article_6bf10b65-47ac-5a2b-b1f1-86088f5cd181.html. Here are the relevant quotes from Feinstein,
"Following the committee’s meeting, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the panel’s ranking member, said nominees should not be disqualified only because they received a “not qualified” rating from the ABA.
"Still, Feinstein said, senators should take the ABA ratings seriously.“This is sort of a voluntary American Bar Association effort to independently evaluate candidates,” she said. “It is not necessarily definitive. Nobody has to abide by it, but why would we turn down advice?”
So, there we have it. When a president with an historic tide of Conservative and traditional voter support seeks to remake a liberal bastion within the federal judiciary into a more broadly representative body, Feinstein sees it appropriate to work for over two years and issue nearly thirty separate press releases on the matter to galvanize absolute fidelity, support and protection for the "blue slip" and ABA processes. It looks entirely different; however, when the ABA weighs-in with a less than favorable rating for Feinstein's own preferred nominee. In that case, it sounds more like being "sort of voluntary," "not necessarily definitive," "nobody has to abide by it," "not automatic," "it's one little security," etc. Interesting. It's important when it matters to her and when it doesn't it's not important. Sounds like a politician."Although not an “automatic disqualifier,” Feinstein said she looks for the rating.“It’s one little security if I don’t know the individual, what their relationships are among peers, that kind of thing,” she said."
Feinstein's entire basis for her position is both contradictory according to her own words and laughable. Her efforts are nothing more than representative of blatant fear of losing one of the last real and tangible mechanisms for Liberals to shape and influence the American judiciary and the federal government in general. She knows that. We all know that. It's why she's embracing duplicity and speaking out of both sides of her mouth.
So then, why would President Trump buckle and give credence to a corrupt and partisan Senator, a liberal ABA and a partisan obstructionist agenda utilizing the "blue slip" and ABA processes to thwart the will of the voters? He wouldn't.
This fight is far from over.