Ending Blue Slip Power a Good Start

Ending Blue Slip Power a Good Start
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In 1913, the United States Senate’s role in governing our nation suffered a dramatic and unfortunate alteration. Until adoption of the 17th Amendment in that year, the two senators sent to Washington by each state were chosen by state legislatures. The main task of all senators, a widely understood mission, was to protect the state and its people from possible domination by the federal government.

Senate floor by United States Senate, Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The obvious intention of the Founders, known to all who were aware of the attitude of the Constitution’s authors and ratifiers, upheld the authority and prerogatives of the states. The national (federal) government was given few powers and states were left alone to govern within their own borders. One result of this system saw competition arise among the states to be the least domineering, the state where people would want to live, raise families, establish businesses, etc. As always occurs where competition exists, the states vied with each other to be the best state.

After 1913, the U.S. Senate became a virtual duplicate of the House of Representatives. The branch of the federal government supposed to be the guardian of the rights of the states speedily distanced itself from the intention of the Founders. Accordingly, various governmental powers, many of which trample on the rights of the individual states and are clearly unconstitutional, have become unquestioned federal duties. No longer is there a branch of the federal government to keep Washington-style domination away from welfare payments, housing, transportation, workplace safety, medical care, and a host of other areas. Federal power has mushroomed and now formerly independent states have lost their independence.

The Constitution also wisely granted power to the Senate to approve or disapprove nominees for judgeships at the Supreme Court and lower federal courts. Beginning in 1917, a procedure known as “blue slip acquiescence” enabled a senator to indicate acceptance of a presidential nominee from his or her home state for a place on a federal appeals court or a lower federal court. Refusal to send approval of an appointee on the blue-colored form torpedoed a presidential nomination.

With the Senate now controlled the Republican Party, even though “barely” in control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) have ignored the wishes of Democrat senators by downplaying the blue slip approval process. Oregon’s two Democrat senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, refused blue slip approval for a nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Republican leaders in the Senate have abandoned the blue slip process. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin likewise refused to send the coveted blue slip approval for the nomination of a fellow Wisconsinite. In this remarkable turnabout, the desire of the Democrat senators to block GOP nominees has not been fulfilled.

During the Obama administration when Democrats ruled the Senate and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chaired the Judiciary Committee, the blue slip procedure was scrupulously followed. Before he left the Senate in late 2017, for example, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken refused to issue blue slip approval for a conservative nominated by President Trump to take a seat on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, blue-slip approval is no longer necessary.

Asked about this turning away from a century-old practice, Senator McConnell said: “The blue slip is meant to encourage consultation between the White House and home-state senators. It’s not a way for senators to have veto power over nominees for their political and ideological reasons.” Senator Grassley agreed with his GOP colleague.

So, nominees for federal judgeships will not face rejection by a single senator’s use of this arcane procedure. This is a welcome development. But reversing the 17th Amendment, a far more important step toward honoring the intent of America’s Founders, awaits overdue consideration.

Are you receiving our free weekly e-newsletter? Sign up today! Be sure to also get our free Top Daily Headlines from The New American.


McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Abortion Decision Should Be Reversed

Abortion Decision Should Be Reversed
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Taking the life of an innocent infant in the womb didn’t become a so-call “right” in the United States with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Several state governments had already passed legislation conferring legality on the grisly practice. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller eagerly promoted the killing of unborn infants whose life in the womb had not yet reached the sixth-month plateau known by medical professionals as the time when an infant fetus could survive early delivery. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, Planned Parenthood, and others helped to assure America’s abandonment of the centuries-old prohibition against taking the life of an unborn child.

Image from pixabay by Fred974, CCO Creative Commons.

Since 1973, some states have sought to impede the practice of deliberately snuffing out life in the womb. In 2013, for instance, North Dakota legislators passed a law banning abortions if an unborn infant’s heartbeat is detected. This reasonable attempt to curtail murder by abortion was struck down by a federal court and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. During 2016, a strong anti-abortion Texas law won passage at that state’s level, but the Supreme Court voided portions of it. Just recently in Mississippi the legislature enacted a prohibition on abortion once an unborn infant had progressed 15 weeks in the womb. This law is being appealed by the usual pro-abortion organizations led by federally funded Planned Parenthood.

More remarkably, Iowa has just passed and its governor has signed a measure banning abortion if an infant’s heartbeat can be detected. Medical experts contend that such an indication of life can be assured six weeks after conception. The Iowa law requires a woman seeking an abortion to submit to ultrasound inspection. If an infant’s heartbeat is detected, the Iowa law bars abortionists from carrying out the woman’s wishes.

Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds not only expects opponents to challenge her state’s recent action, she welcomes it. She expects a challenge to be adjudicated after a change in the personnel on the Supreme Court, enough of a change to reverse Roe v. Wade. Her hopes are based on the near certainty that at least one of the liberal justices will soon retire and be replaced by an anti-abortion judge who would, she expects, side with four justices already committed to overturning 45 years of “legal” abortion.

America, for the rest of mankind, should never have allowed the willful termination of innocent life. But our nation has already allowed the destruction of the lives of 60 million unborn babes. The doctors who have participated in this grisly practice have all ignored a simple rule of their profession that states “Do no harm.” The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (who lived from 460 to 380 B.C.) is known as the Father of Medicine. His writings including the famous Hippocratic Oath condemned giving “a woman a pessary to produce an abortion.” (A pessary is a device inserted into the uterus that was known in ancient times to impede growth of a fetus and terminate its life.)

Graduating medical school students had always recited the 300 words of the Hippocratic Oath. Since Roe v. Wade however, some medical schools such as Tufts University in Massachusetts and North Carolina’s Duke University, have changed what Hippocrates had written in order to remove the medical profession’s long-standing prohibition against abortion penned by the ancient Greek. Their revised oath contains a condemnation of any “operation for a criminal purpose.” According to numerous university medical schools, when high-ranking justices remove abortion from the list of criminal acts, then terminating life in the womb becomes acceptable.

The United States began with the Declaration of Independence’s clear assertion that all are “endowed by their Creator” with rights. Among such rights one can find “Life.” Hence, the willful taking of that God-given right is condemnable. Roe v. Wade destroyed this for tens of millions and it has sullied the image of our nation for 45 years. We agree with the lawmakers in Iowa whose challenge to overturn that gruesome 1973 decision deserves the support and prayers of all thinking Americans.

Are you receiving our free weekly e-newsletter? Sign up today! Be sure to also get our free Top Daily Headlines from The New American.


McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


What Are Your Election Forecasts?

What Are Your Election Forecasts?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Not a day passes without some political commentator providing an opinion about the congressional elections in November or the presidential election in 2020. So, if so many others are offering their expert prognostication, why shouldn’t I?

The White House. Image from Wikimedia Commons by AgonsticPreachersKid CC BY-SA 3.0.

Here it goes. Regarding the fall of 2018 and what the House or Senate will look like after the votes are counted, I don’t know. And as to what will happen when President Trump seeks reelection or decides to step down, I don’t know that either.

Most of the pundits were embarrassingly wrong regarding the results in 2016 – both for the White House and for Congress. Currently, they are concluding that large numbers of voters – not only Democrats but also a healthy number of Republicans who don’t like Donald Trump’s performance to date – will elect a Democrat challenger. These are the commentators and professional polls who were certain that Hillary Clinton would drub Donald Trump in 2016. For them, the result was a huge blow that should have kept them quiet for the future.

Here’s what I do know. In the 2000 presidential race, Al Gore was eventually determined to be the loser only when Florida’s 25 electoral votes were awarded to George W. Bush. In that state, 97,488 voted for Ralph Nader. Had Nader not been on the ballot as a candidate of a minor party, most choosing him would surely have opted for Gore. With the result that Gore would have won the White House, not Bush. The possibilities that something like this could happen in 2020 are increasingly real.

In 2020, no matter who the Democrats chose as their candidate to oust Trump, our nation’s growing Progressive movement is likely to field a candidate under some banner other than Democrat. If the chosen Democrat candidate isn’t a Sanders-style Progressive, large numbers of these socialists will either stay home and not vote or turn to some other far-left candidate. Keep in mind that in 2000, there were a total of 16 candidates for president (all were not on the ballot in every state) plus write-ins.

It is quite likely Progressives will field a candidate. If this happens, the Democratic Party will likely suffer the same type defeat – in several states – that Gore suffered in Florida in 2000 because he didn’t get the Nader votes needed to win that state.

For the 2018 congressional races, the 435 House seats are held by 239 Republicans and 191 Democrats (there are a few independents and vacancies). Should the Republicans lose 22 House seats, they would lose their leadership in that body. If they lose two Senate seats, their leadership of that body would also revert to the Democrats.

Establishment favoring pundits expect that Donald Trump’s unpopularity will cause Republican losses in both Houses of Congress. But they overlook the huge unpopularity of California Democrat Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic Party’s leader in the House can be a significant drag on Democrat candidates from coast to coast. Republicans defending their seat against Democrats Party candidates need only tell voters that a vote for their opponent amounts to a vote to put Pelosi back in the hugely powerful Speaker position.

And Trump’s popularity has been rising – helped along by suggestions that he win the Nobel Peace Prize for getting the leaders of the two Koreas to talk instead of use nuclear weapons.

Any pundit who doesn’t factor in the above considerations will likely be as embarrassed in 2018 and 2020 as most were in 2016.

Are you receiving our free weekly e-newsletter? Sign up today! Be sure to also get our free Top Daily Headlines from The New American.


McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.