Why Roy Moore matters
Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota used the blue slip to block the Trump nomination of David Stras of Minnesota to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Franken calls Stras too ideological, too conservative.
But Grassley has now decided to reject the blue slip courtesy for appellate court judges, since their jurisdiction is not just over a single state like Minnesota, but over an entire region.
Thus have the skids been greased for a conservative recapture of the federal judiciary unseen since the early days of FDR.
Eighteen of the 179 seats on the U.S. appellate courts and 119 of the 677 seats on federal district courts are already open. More will be opening up. No president in decades has seen the opportunity Trump has to remake the federal judiciary.
Not only are the federal court vacancies almost unprecedented, a GOP Senate and Trump are working in harness to fill them before January 2019, when a new Congress is sworn in.
If Republicans blow this opportunity, it is unlikely to come again. For the Supreme Court has seemed within Republican grasp before, only to have it slip away because of presidential errors.
Nixon had four nominees to the Supreme Court confirmed and Gerald Ford saw his nominee, John Paul Stevens, unanimously confirmed. But of those five justices confirmed from 1969 to 1976, Stevens and Harry Blackmun joined the liberal bloc, and Chief Justice Warren Burger and Lewis Powell voted for Roe v. Wade.
Of Reagan's three Supreme Court nominees confirmed, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy cast crucial votes in 5-4 decisions to defeat the strict constructionists led by Antonin Scalia.
George H.W. Bush named Clarence Thomas to the court, but only after he had elevated David Souter, who also joined the liberal bloc.
Hence, both Trump, by whom he nominates, and a Republican Senate, with its power to confirm with 51 votes, are indispensable if we are to end judicial dictatorship in America.