Georgia Senators Withholding Blue Slips in Jill Pryor Nomination

By Robyn Hagan Cain on May 11, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It looks like there’s a holdup in Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Jill Pryor’s confirmation. Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have not submitted “blue slips” to allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to proceed with a hearing on Pryor, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Chambliss and Isakson indicated to the White House in January that they would not block Jill Pryor's nomination to the bench, though they preferred Troutman Sanders partner Mark Cohen for the position. The Journal-Constitution noted that Cohen served as executive counsel and chief of staff to former Gov. Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat, while Pryor often donates to Democrats, and gave $2,500 to Obama's re-election campaign.

Pryor clerked for Eleventh Circuit Judge J.L. Edmonson before joining Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore as an associate in 1989; she became a partner at the firm in 1997. The American Bar Association rated her well-qualified for the bench. If confirmed, Pryor will fill Judge Stanley Burch's spot on the Atlanta-based appellate court, which has been vacant since August 2010.

So why is the blue slip a dealbreaker?

A federal judicial nominee's home-state senators are provided a blue slip by the Judiciary Committee, by which they can approve moving the nominee through the Committee process. Returning a positive blue slip is not a commitment by either senator to support or oppose a pending nomination, but withholding the blue slip stalls the nomination.

Blue slips aren't the only means of blocking a nominee. Several of President Obama's appellate nominees have encountered resistance.

  • Former Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu withdrew himself from consideration for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after Republicans filibustered his nomination. California Gov. Jerry Brown later nominated Liu to the California Supreme Court.
  • Federal Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Edward DuMont asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination after waiting 18 months for confirmation.
  • Last December, Republicans filibustered D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan's nomination.
  • Pryor's own nomination came on the heels of an attempted filibuster in Eleventh Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordán's February confirmation.

Pryor's nomination is unlikely to move forward any time soon. Senators Chambliss and Isakson have not offered explanations for why they have not submitted blue slips.

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