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The United States Senate plays a significant role in the appointment of judges in the federal court system. While the formal role of providing consent to the President's nominees to the federal courts is specified by the Constitution, senators have long played a consultative role through the use of the blue slip. Under the blue slip policy, each home state senator is sent a query asking for their opinion and information on the nominee from their state. The queries were sent on blue paper by the chair of the Judiciary Committee and thus the nickname, the blue slip.


This project catalogs blue slips available in the National Archives from 1910 to 1960. Digital scans of the blue slips are made available to other researchers who might be interested in revisiting the blue slips. Furthermore, this project expands existing databases on lower federal court confirmation (available for nominations from 1977 to 2004 thanks to Wendy L. Martinek at to encompass 1891 to 1976. These steps will allow comprehensive analyses of the confirmation process and how it has evolved over time, as well as investigate what factors influence the return of the blue slip.

We thank the Law and Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation for research support (SES-1022665, "The Blue Slip and the Senate Confirmation Process") and the Dirksen Congressional Research Center for research support.