To Urge an End to the Filibuster and “Blue Slip” Practice
WHEREAS, the filibuster is a practice with a 100-year history of being used by racists, including having been used repeatedly to thwart federal anti-lynching legislation when 99% of all perpetrators of lynching escaped punishment by state or local officials, and to block bills to protect the civil rights of Black Americans, including proposed legislation to eliminate poll taxes, and was used by racists such as Senator Strom Thurmond, who spoke nearly uninterrupted for more than 24 hours in an attempt to prevent passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act and by opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act who filibustered for 60 working days, the longest combined filibuster in history; and
WHEREAS, the filibuster remains a threat to all new civil rights legislation, including but not limited to, any new Voting Rights Act proposed to combat attempts by individual states to suppress the votes of, and disenfranchise, Black and brown voters by reducing or eliminating ballot drop boxes, curtailing voting by mail, reducing the amount of early voting hours and locations, hindering voter-registration drives, and putting in place greater obstacles related to voter identification; and
WHEREAS, the filibuster has no roots in the U.S. Constitution and serves to cause partisan gridlock and subvert the majority rule principal exposing all proposed legislation to the possibility of being held hostage thus perverting the entire process for debate and passage of legislation; and
WHEREAS, the "Blue Slip" practice, which was devised by segregationist senators in the 1950s as a tool of massive resistance to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, is still followed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee with respect to some nominations, and grants home-state senators extraordinary veto power over the selection of federal district court judges and U.S. Attorneys in their states; and
WHEREAS, in recent years, U.S. Senators have repeatedly withheld the "Blue Slip" on nominations, which signals their lack of consent on a nomination from their state and thus prevents the Senate Judiciary Committee from moving that nomination forward in the confirmation process, in order to block the nominations of Black judges by President Clinton and President Obama to circuit and district courts, thereby depriving the nation of desperately needed diversity on the federal bench; and
WHEREAS, Donald Trump appointed 234 judges to the federal bench, including three Supreme Court justices, 54 appellate judges and 174 district court judges, resulting in the most ideological and least diverse group of judicial appointees in the modern era and causing a devastating retreat in judicial diversity and a federal judiciary which now includes judges with long records of hostility to civil rights; and
WHEREAS, during the Trump administration, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairs Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham eliminated use of "Blue Slips" with respect to circuit court nominations, and current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin has similarly abandoned that practice for circuit court nominations but has retained the "Blue Slip" practice for district court nominations, which will mean that Senators in most Southern states can still block nominations to the district court; and
WHEREAS, the "Blue Slip" practice has been utilized for nominations for U.S. Attorneys, who by the discretion afforded them have the power to reform our criminal justice system or conversely to use the system as a weapon to target people of color and add to the over-incarceration of Black and Brown Americans.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP urges the U.S. Senate to amend the cloture rule (the Filibuster) which requires a supermajority of 60 votes to end debate on bills and advance legislation and decrease such number to a simple majority.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to eliminate the "Blue Slip" practice altogether, and eliminate the veto power of home-state Senators over Federal District Court or U.S. Attorney nominees.