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Dick Durbin and the Ballad of the Blue Slip


The current Democratic leadership of the World’s Worst Deliberative Body is considering reinstating one of its worst rules:

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin is open to reinstating the blue slip on circuit court nominees next year, a proposal that would restore significant power to the minority party to block the White House’s judicial nominees.

Durbin (D-Ill.) said during a committee markup last week that he’d entertain conversations around restoring the blue slip — which home-state senators could use to effectively veto certain nominees — but only if it is bipartisan and agreed to before Election Day. Such a deal would be a high-stakes gamble for both sides, since neither would know who would benefit from the policy change or if future leaders would honor it.


(1) The blue slip rule is totally horrible even without reference to partisan considerations. Why should one senator from a state with 17 people in it — I just noticed yesterday that Wyoming has less than twice as many people as Boulder County, which is barely in the top ten of counties for population in a fairly small state — be able to block judicial nominations, which is one of the most important functions of the executive branch?

(2) Speaking of partisan considerations, Dick Durbin et. al. are going to keep hitting “cooperate” in the Prisoner’s Dilemma, no matter how many thousands of times in a row the GOP defects.

(3) I had a tire blow out on me today, while I was in the middle of a half dozen conversations about my mother’s rehab situation. She broke her pelvis two weeks ago; the next thing that happened was we were in a tornado at the hospital; total number of my 65 colleagues who have reached out to me about this situation after I mentioned it via Zoom at a faculty meeting to explain my physical absence from the meeting, which was considering a course proposal I had made, as I would normally be at such a meeting in person: One. (Separate post topic: Has everyone just become a totally cold emotional robot post-Covid?).

I had a 20-minute drive with the tow truck driver, and in good Goffmanesque fashinon I elicited his life story, which included being born in Modesto California on June 7, 1981 at 10:47 AM, two weeks late, because he was supposed to be a May baby. His mother owns an almond farm, seven acres, but you can’t make any money at that any more, but she won’t sell; he went to the same high school as George Lucas; had I ever heard of the movie Graffiti Nights? Did I realize that Gavin Newsom has passed a law that says if you get a minor pregnant you can’t be convicted of statutory rape? He makes $2,000 per month base rate plus piece rate, although if he doesn’t get enough jobs he doesn’t even make the base rate; he has no health insurance; he works 84 hours per week, 12 hour shifts five days a week plus two overnights; he’s not married but is planning to be soon; until recently he had a one and a half hour commute just to get to work in beautiful Boulder; oh you’re from Michigan? the milk and cheese are much purer there than in California; I’ll never go back to California.


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