The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has pledged to oppose the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of two judges over the “blue slip” policy, which has historically given senators the power to stop a lower-court nominee from their own state.

When a federal judicial nominee is being considered, a blue slip is given to both senators from the nominee’s home state. The senators are instructed to write down their opinion about the nominee and return the slip to the Judiciary Committee, which will factor the responses into its decision.

If one or both senators refuses to return the blue slip, the nominee is dropped from consideration. Though the chairman of the committee decides how much power the policy really exerts, it has previously halted the nomination of many lower-court hopefuls.

The rule is rooted in discriminatory ideology – it was used by segregationists to keep people of color out of federal positions and undermine the civil rights movement.

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Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev) has called on Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) to institute several reforms before the caucus considers the nominations of Jerry Edwards Jr. to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, and Brandon Long to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Both candidates were nominated by President Joe Biden in June.

Horsford requested that Durbin waive the blue slip policy for U.S. attorneys and marshals, mandate the return of blue slips from at least one home-state senator and require that senators who refuse to return the blue slip explain their decision to do so.

In a letter to Durbin, Horsford wrote that the blue slip is “a fundamentally undemocratic vestige of Jim Crow.”

“Decisions made by federal judges play a critical role in determining the scope of individual civil rights and liberties. Judges matter, and the opinion of a few can impact the lives of many,” Horsford continued.

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