Jennifer Rubin is a columnist for the Washington Post. Originally, she was hired to express conservative views. Her column was called “Right Turn.” But when Trump was elected, she flipped. She realized that the Republican Party had lost its principles and stood for nothing other than slavishly obeying Trump’s whims and passing tax cuts for the 1%.

In this column, she calls out Senator Dick Durbin for acquiescing to the obsolete tradition of allowing one home-state Senator to block the President’s nomination to a federal judgeship. Democrats play by the unwritten rules, but Republicans ignore them. Democrats allowed Trump to nominate totally unqualified federal judges and joined in confirming them (e.g., the zealous anti-abortion extremist in Amarillo, Texas, who recently slapped a national ban on the main abortion pill because he disapproved of the Federal Drug Administration’s rigorous approval process).

But Republicans withhold their approval of well-qualified judicial nominees. And now, with Senator Dianne Feinstein home on sick leave, the Judiciary Committee is not approving any of President Biden’s nominees and will not give their approval to Senator Feinstein’s request to be removed temporarily from the committee.

Rubin wrote recently:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) seems spectacularly ill-suited for an era when democracy is at risk, when Republicans observe no rules of decorum and when the federal judiciary’s credibility is crumbling.

Far too restrained and deferential, Durbin has refused to alter practices such as the “blue slip,” which allows home-state senators to nix the president’s judicial nominees, although he has beseeched Republicans not to abuse the practice. Durbin also hasn’t yet conducted hearings on the disastrous effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and related abortion bans, nor has he held hearings on a mandatory ethics code for judges — although he has promised hearings on revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas’s failure to disclose luxurious travel gifts and real estate sales. Then again, Senate Democrats as a whole haven’t pushed Durbin, so one cannot blame him alone for his timidity.

Caroline Fredrickson and Alan Neff recently wrote about blue slips for Just Security:

“The blue slip is an opaque — and inherently obstructionist — Senate tradition that allows a single Senator in any State to block a presidential nominee to the District Courts in their electoral patch merely by withholding their consent to consideration of the nominee in Committee. Like the filibuster, the blue slip allows Senators to halt Senate action without ever having to explain themselves to their Senate colleagues, their constituents, or the public, even if it means more criminal and civil cases languish unresolved on federal trial-court dockets for longer periods.”

Durbin could end this practice at any time, removing another abuse of minority-party power in the Senate. It’s one that has been spectacularly abused by Republicans, who have pushed through grossly unqualified, unfit nominees nominated by Republican presidents and yet nixed perfectly acceptable judges nominated by Democratic presidents…

Last week, Carl Hulse wrote for the New York Times:

“Then last week, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican of Mississippi, served notice to the Judiciary Committee that she would not allow the nomination of Scott Colom, a candidate for a court vacancy in the state, to move forward, citing his past political support from the left, among other reasons. Her stance endangered the confirmation of Mr. Colom, a popular Black Democratic state prosecutor who had the backing of Roger Wicker, the other Republican senator from the state, as well as leading Mississippi Republicans including two former governors, Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant.”

Durbin had previously promised he would respect blue slips unless the decision to withhold the blue slip was based not on the nominee’s qualifications but on race, gender or sexual orientation.

Apparently, this didn’t qualify in his eyes.

Durbin’s appeals to shameless Republicans have accomplished nothing. Instead, he has allowed Republicans to run amok. Is it any surprise that when they were asked to approve the request from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to be removed from the committee, they balked? Plainly, they know they have nothing to fear from Durbin.

Committee Democrats can, if they choose, push Durbin to end the blue slip practice. They also could demand a hearing on Supreme Court ethics, on book banning, and on the effects of Dobbs and abortion bans. They might even hold hearings on corruption in the prior administration or on domestic terrorism. They could hold hearings on nationwide injunctions and single judge divisions, which allowed for Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk’s abysmal ruling on the abortion drug mifepristone.

All these would be appropriate uses of oversight power — unlike House Republicans’ stunts. They’ve done none of that.

Voters, court reformers, progressive advocacy groups, donors and even Vice President Harris — a former committee member who is strenuously working to keep the plight of women denied abortions in the news — could all apply pressure. Democrats cannot attend to the threats to democracy if they play by Marquess of Queensberry rules and apply to Republicans’ nonexistent good faith.

The voters elected a Democratic Senate and Democratic president; they have a right to expect swift confirmation of qualified nominees when democracy remains vulnerable. Voters have a right to expect Senate investigations into questionable actions at the Supreme Court and elsewhere.

Durbin and his fellow Democrats need to learn to play hardball.