Republicans override Dem objections to confirm federal judge


WASHINGTON (AP) — The political battle over President Donald Trump's judicial nominees escalated today when the Senate took the rare step of confirming the nomination of a Wisconsin attorney to serve as a federal judge despite the objections of one of his home-state senators.

The Senate voted along party lines to confirm Milwaukee attorney Michael Brennan to fill an opening on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The tally was 49-46. The seat has been open for more than eight years, the longest for the nation's appellate courts.

The Senate gives lawmakers a chance to weigh in on a judicial nominee from their home state by submitting a blue-colored form called the "blue slip." A positive blue slip signals the Senate to move forward with the nomination process. A negative blue slip, or withholding it altogether, signals a senator's objection and almost always stalls the nomination.

Until this year, it had been nearly three decades since the Senate confirmed a judge without two positive blue slips. Brennan's confirmation marked the second time it has happened this year. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., declined to return her blue slip.

The move to go ahead with a hearing for Brennan and a vote on the floor had Democrats complaining that Republicans were eroding one of the few remaining customs in the Senate that forced consultation on judicial nominations. They also noted that Republicans used the blue slip to block one of President Barack Obama's nominees for the very same judgeship.

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