What Does Rand Paul Have That We Don't Have?
We'd say it's the hair, but it's actually a blue slip.
For the last month, many of us who value our reproductive rights have been a tad bewildered by the fact that President Biden decided to dole out a judgeship to a right-wing Federalist Society guy who just recently defended Kentucky's terrible abortion law, not as part of any deal, but rather as a lovely "personal friendship gesture" to Mitch McConnell. Unless there was a hostage we don't know about. There could have been a hostage! And maybe that's just what we should go with here.
But yesterday, it was announced that Biden had decided not to make Chad Meredith a judge after all. Was it because he suddenly realized that perhaps it was a bad idea to nominate an anti-abortion judge right after Roe was overturned, during an election year where one of the main things Democrats have to run on is "Look at these monsters who took your reproductive rights away!?" Was it because he listened to the concerns of those who thought this was, perhaps, a bad idea and a bad look? Or was worried that if he were to appoint this judge, that those for whom this is a big issue might feel like he was letting them down?
No. That wasn't it. The reason Chad Meredith won't be a judge is because Rand Paul, one of the few men out there with a douchier name than "Chad Meredith," said no.
Via New York Times:
Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, who has a deep interest in shaping the federal judiciary, said the White House intended to follow through on its commitment to nominate Mr. Meredith until Mr. Paul objected. Mr. Paul informed the White House that he would not return a “blue slip” consenting to the nomination of Mr. Meredith, who is now in private practice.
The blue slip tradition followed by the Senate Judiciary Committee effectively gives home-state senators veto power over the selection of federal district court judges for their states.
“In considering potential district court nominees, the White House learned that Senator Rand Paul will not return a blue slip on Chad Meredith,” Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said Friday in a statement. “Therefore, the White House will not nominate Mr. Meredith.”
It's not clear why, exactly, Paul tanked the nomination. It's doubtful that it was out of any desire to protect reproductive rights. Some have suggested that it was because Paul felt it was "his turn" to pick a judge. It could also be one of those weird times that Paul whimsically chooses to be on the right side of something, which is a thing he sometimes does on issues like war, drug policies and, yes, a lot of criminal justice issues. Historically, Paul has opposed mandatory minimums, excessive sentencing and the loss of voting rights for felons, all of which could be reasons why he might not support certain conservative judges.
Now, this obviously would have been a happier ending if this guy got tanked because he opposes abortion access, rather than just because Rand Paul decided to hold onto his blue slip —but hey! We'll take what we can get, and at least it ruined Mitch McConnell's day.
The outcome has left Mr. McConnell frustrated and some Democrats mystified. It pulled back the curtain on a seldom discussed back channel of communication that remains between Mr. McConnell and Mr. Biden, who were once negotiating partners in the Senate but who have more recently had little to do with one another as the Kentucky Republican works to sink the Democratic president’s agenda.
Still, Mr. McConnell said he had persuaded the White House to do him a “personal favor” by putting a young conservative on the bench, only to be thwarted by a Republican colleague.
“The net result of this is it has prevented me from getting my kind of judge out of a liberal Democratic president,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview, calling Mr. Paul’s position “just utterly pointless."
Well, that seems like a pretty good net result if you ask us — certainly not pointless. Rand Paul is terrible in myriad ways, but it's entirely possible that his kind of judge would preferable in some ways to McConnell's kind of judge. And perhaps it was just McConnell's turn to get screwed on a judicial appointment.
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