Against backdrop of voting rights fight, Senate GOP can’t hide their racism in nomination hearing

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Of course Republicans didn’t return that courtesy when they took the Senate and for the duration of the Trump administration. Packing the courts with Trump’s Federalist Society-stamped nominees was their priority so they could ensure that the circuits would send cases that would do things like overturn abortion rights or prohibit President Biden’s policy choices to the Trump-dominated Supreme Court.

Durbin noted that Wednesday, reminding Republicans that they approved 18 of Trump’s appeals courts nominees without Democratic “blue slips,” with 17 of them ultimately reaching the floor and getting confirmed. “We are about to enter a four-year—I don’t want to characterize or mischaracterize the situation—four years of trying to balance the books,” Durbin said.

“Republicans chose to abandon this Senatorial courtesy,” he said in his opening statement. “My colleagues across the aisle, I think, would be hard pressed now to demand that Democrats reinstate this practice. Simply put, there should not be one set of rules for Republican nominees … and a different set for Democratic nominees.”

Blackburn did not take it well. In fact, she went full-on racist with Mathis, who would be the first Black man from Tennessee to sit on the 6th Circuit. He has a “rap sheet,” Blackburn said to explain her reluctance. And by “rap sheet” she means three 10-year-old speeding tickets.

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That made HuffPost’s Bendery remember the time last year when Blackburn got pulled over by U.S. Capitol Police when she was hurrying to catch a flight to start recess. “Blackburn then jumped out of the car, identified herself as a senator and showed the officer her congressional pin, according to a text message and a source familiar with the matter,” CNN reported. “The officer then let the car go.” Would that count as part of her rap sheet?

For the record, Mathis was greatly taken aback and apologetic over the issue. “I highly regret that I’m in this situation. I feel like I’ve embarrassed my family,” Mathis said. “And I truly regret that. While I deserve this, they don’t.” He explained he had forgotten about the speeding tickets and when he got notice that his license had been suspended, paid them quickly and got it reinstated.

To prove that Blackburn isn’t the only race-challenged Republican on the panel, Louisiana Republican John Kennedy then played the “my Black friend” card by relating that he has met Denzel Washington, and thinks he “is one of the five coolest people on the planet.” It was nominally relevant as both Mathis and Denzel have an interest in the Boys and Girls Club, the basis of Kennedy’s remarks. But it was a damned awkward stretch.

As far as the procedural issue of the blue slips goes, Kennedy acknowledged that Republicans had done exactly the same thing, but said Democrats should disarm and “call off the dogs” and find a “neutral way” to restore the courtesy. Yeah, right. “Perhaps we can agree that prospectively after the 2024 presidential election, there will be a rule,” Durbin said.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse added that a solution is worth exploring, but not one that means blue slips are honored when there’s a Democratic president and tossed when there’s a Republican one. “I think the damage that was done to this institution by the decision to remove the blue slip institution of this committee, the decision to end the blue slip, was very real,” Whitehouse said. “And now your side is feeling the pain of it, that we have felt for the past administration.”





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