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The Confirmation Process and a Senatorial Norm: Historical Quantification and Analysis of the Senate Blue Slip Process
Unformatted Document Text:  whom Eastland was one, wanted to ensure desegregationist judges were not confirmed to federal judgeships in their states. Further, as Chase (1972) notes, senators from other parts of the country could not afford politically to vote against a nominee just because he was not a segregationist. Hence, the only way southern senators could defeat a nominee was at the committee level. 22 We find, in our estimated models, that nominees to positions on federal courts in the South move at the same rate as nominees from other regions in the time period of our study. This may suggest that the President, cognizant of Eastland’s change in blue slip policy, altered his nomination strategy to avoid the veto that the blue slip now offered senators. Policy concerns, however, do not provide the complete picture on the blue slip’s evolution. The existence of divided government also plays an important role in the explanation. If the Senate majority and President were of the same party, alteration of the blue slip might not have been necessary or considered in the first place. The processes of judicial nomination and confirmation, with regard to senatorial-Presidential interaction, operate under two norms: senatorial courtesy, a pre-nomination norm in which the President consults with home-state senators of his party before making a nomination and the blue slip, a post-nomination norm utilized after the President has sent the nomination to the Senate. If the President and the Senate are of the same party, the majority party senators will interact with the President before a nomination is made, often selecting the nominee themselves (at least during this time in history). The blue slip for senators of the President’s party, then, is generally a formality and only used to object when they feel their advice has been ignored. Senators not of the President’s party, however, usually do not receive the same type of pre-nomination selection or clearance privileges. Their only ability to effectively make sure the President does not make objectionable 22 There is no mention of holds being an effective tool by which senators blocked the confirmation of federal judges in the relevant literature. 26

Authors: Box-Steffensmeier, Janet., Campisano, Charles. and Scott, Kevin.
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whom Eastland was one, wanted to ensure desegregationist judges were not confirmed to federal 
judgeships in their states. Further, as Chase (1972) notes, senators from other parts of the country 
could not afford politically to vote against a nominee just because he was not a segregationist. 
Hence, the only way southern senators could defeat a nominee was at the committee level.
22
  We 
find, in our estimated models, that nominees to positions on federal courts in the South move at 
the same rate as nominees from other regions in the time period of our study.  This may suggest 
that the President, cognizant of Eastland’s change in blue slip policy, altered his nomination 
strategy to avoid the veto that the blue slip now offered senators. 
Policy concerns, however, do not provide the complete picture on the blue slip’s 
evolution. The existence of divided government also plays an important role in the explanation. 
If the Senate majority and President were of the same party, alteration of the blue slip might not 
have been necessary or considered in the first place. The processes of judicial nomination and 
confirmation, with regard to senatorial-Presidential interaction, operate under two norms: 
senatorial courtesy, a pre-nomination norm in which the President consults with home-state 
senators of his party before making a nomination and the blue slip, a post-nomination norm 
utilized after the President has sent the nomination to the Senate. If the President and the Senate 
are of the same party, the majority party senators will interact with the President before a 
nomination is made, often selecting the nominee themselves (at least during this time in history). 
The blue slip for senators of the President’s party, then, is generally a formality and only used to 
object when they feel their advice has been ignored. Senators not of the President’s party, 
however, usually do not receive the same type of pre-nomination selection or clearance 
privileges. Their only ability to effectively make sure the President does not make objectionable 
                                                 
22
 There is no mention of holds being an effective tool by which senators blocked the confirmation of federal judges 
in the relevant literature.  
26


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