(PresidentialWire.com)- Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin said this week that he would not support the president’s selection to fill a vacancy for district court in Wisconsin.
That move likely means that the pick will not move forward as an official nominee, unless Democrats change course from what has become tradition.
Biden’s pick was William Pocan to serve as a district judge in Wisconsin’s Eastern District. Because Johnson doesn’t support the pick, it will become the first time one of Biden’s judicial nominees didn’t result in a blue slip — a paper that indicates the senator from the home state supports the nominee.
Along with Wisconsin’s other senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin, Johnson had recommended Pocan previously as a potential replacement to fill the district court’s vacancy. However, his thoughts seem to have changed.
In a statement, Johnson said:
“Since Judge Pocan’s nomination, I have been hearing concerns from the Green Bay legal community that they needed a judge who is locally based and actively involved in their community. That is not the case with Judge Pocan.
“In addition, the tragedy in Waukesha never should have happened. That it did, is the direct result of soft on crime low bail policies and court orders. I cannot support someone for a lifetime appointment that has granted low bail for someone charged with violent felonies. That is not in the best interest of Wisconsinites nor Americans. I look forward to working with President Biden on selecting a suitable nominee.”
The process in Wisconsin is that a nominating commission puts together a list of up to six names that they submit to the two U.S. senators. Then, those senators make a formal recommendation to the U.S. president.
It is typical that any nominee for a district court position won’t advance in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee unless the receive a blue slip from both of the senators in the state. Since that is not likely to happen here, it’s also unlikely that Pocan would advance.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, who is the chair of the Judiciary Committee, would still have the power to move the nomination forward, but it’s not expected that he would do that. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the situation by media outlet The Hill.
Durbin previously told The New York Times, though, that he would respect the blue slip process for nominees to district courts. However, he also added he wouldn’t let the process be abused so that senators could block a potentially nominee based on his or her gender or race.
During the Trump administration, Republicans advanced nominations for circuit court judges that didn’t receive support from both home-state senators. However, they also left the blue slip process in place for nominees to district court — even though it isn’t a precedent in the Senate.
In effect, the blue slip process gives home-state senators veto power over all nominees to district court.