Attack of the Clones: Senate Edition
Senator Debbie Stabenow’s and Senator Gary Peters’ official portraits.
On May 8th, President Trump nominated Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, thanks to a Senate tradition, Justice Larsen had been prevented from receiving a hearing by her two home-state senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. The two Michigan Democrats had not turned in their blue slips, which would allow the nomination to proceed to committee. Finally, almost three months later, on August 4th, both senators announced that they had returned their blue slips.
Yes, after several months of relative silence on Larsen’s nomination, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters both apparently made up their minds on the exact same day. Coincidence? Probably not. Their press releases are almost identical as well.
Both statements included, of course, a summary of the nomination, the blue slip tradition, and the decision. Both also included a direct quote from the respective senator. The quotes are almost clones of each other.
From Senator Stabenow:
“Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments. As part of my constitutional duty, I have consulted with Michigan’s legal community, reviewed Justice Larson’s [sic!] background and qualifications and most recently, personally met with her. My meeting with Justice Larson [sic!] was productive. I have returned the Senate’s procedural ‘blue slip’ which will allow the nomination process to move forward with the Senate Judiciary Committee. I look forward to hearing more from Justice Larsen during her confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee and will continue to evaluate her nomination.”
And from Senator Peters:
“Federal judges make critical decisions that can directly impact the lives of Michiganders, and the Senate has an important constitutional responsibility to thoroughly review all nominees. I have returned the Senate ‘blue slip,’ and I look forward to learning more about Justice Larsen and her record as she continues through the Senate’s confirmation process. I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with Justice Larsen in person recently, and I will continue to do my due diligence and evaluate her qualifications and judicial approach along with my Senate colleagues.”
Clearly, Senators Stabenow and Peters worked together to come to the same conclusion, and the same press statement. I have no problem with the two senators discussing the nomination, but the problem is that their joint decision is really just the most politically expedient. The senators can tell conservative and moderate voters that they are not obstructionists, while still grandstanding and voting against Joan Larsen’s actual confirmation.
Granted, most conservative voters will see through the political chicanery and recognize the true anti-Constitution motive of progressive Democrats. Sadly, many voters will be content with senators who are not blatant obstructionists, and this recent political move by Stabenow and Peters will meet that basic goal.
I would love to see more solid Constitutionalists on federal courts, and I am glad to see Justice Larsen’s nomination progress. On the other hand, I expect (based on their “joint” statement) that my senators will vote against her confirmation. After the way Senate Democrats treated Justice Neil Gorsuch, I expect nothing less.
Thankfully, we do have an opportunity to unseat Debbie Stabenow in 2018, with several qualified candidates (and potentially an unqualified candidate).