President Joe Biden has dropped plans to nominate a Kentucky anti-abortion attorney to a lifetime federal judgeship, a White House spokesperson said Friday.
Biden had come under intense criticism from Democrats and reproductive rights groups after the Louisville Courier-Journal broke the news that he planned to choose Chad Meredith for a seat on the U.S. District Court in eastern Kentucky. Meredith’s potential nomination gave the impression to be a part of a broader deal on a combination of judicial nominees being worked out behind the scenes between the White House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Ultimately, though, it was a Republican ― Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky ― who appeared to tank the potential nomination.
“In considering potential District Court nominees, the White House learned that Senator Rand Paul won’t return a blue slip on Chad Meredith,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in an announcement. “Subsequently, the White House won’t nominate Mr. Meredith.”
It’s a convention within the Senate Judiciary Committee that its chair won’t advance a judicial nominee until each senators from that nominee’s home state turn in a so-called blue slip ― literally, a blue piece of paper ― signaling that they’re on board with moving forward. Because Paul said he wouldn’t turn in a blue slip for Meredith, he effectively killed the nomination.
A Paul spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on why he opposed Meredith’s potential nomination.
Republicans broke from the blue slip tradition when Donald Trump was president, routinely advancing U.S. Circuit Court nominees despite opposition from those nominees’ Democratic senators who didn’t turn in blue slips. Democrats have begun to do the identical since Biden became president. Each parties have upheld the tradition for District Court nominees, though.