Thursday, February 25, 2016

Chuck Grassley's Obstructionist Role In Blocking President Obama's Judicial Nominee


Senatorial obstructionist clown show, Mitch and Chuck

If you've been following along with the news about President Obama replacing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, you no doubt noticed that the Republicans have dragged us to the brink of an unprecedented Constitutional crisis. As far as I can tell, this is the first time in the country’s history where a hyper-partisan gaggle of right-wing senators are blatantly and explicitly refusing to do the job the constitution assigns them of examining the president's judicial nominee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), almost with minutes of Justice Scalia's death, said they would not consider anyone, no matter how qualified or how stellar, President Obama nominates. Now that is the kind of obstructionism that the American people are sick and tired of. McConnell and Grassley aren't being truthful when they claim that there have never been any election-year appointments to the Supreme Court.  In the past, six Supreme Court Justices have filled a vacancy during an election year, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by Reagan in November and confirmed by a Democratic-led Senate, 97-0, less than three months later (in February, 1988).

According to The Hill yesterday, some legal experts claim Senate Republicans are exceeding their constitutional powers by refusing to hold a hearing on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. In a call with reporters, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law, said Republicans’ decision not to hold a hearing, vote or even a meeting on the nominee is unprecedented. "I can’t identify any other instance where a Senate Judiciary [Committee] has ever said it wouldn’t hold a hearing," he said.

The 8 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who said they would ignore any nominee that President Obama asks them to consider were Chairman Grassley, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). None of these senators are in a vulnerable electoral situation this year-- either because they are not up for reelection, like Graham and Hatch, or because they represent a deep red state with a moribund Democratic Party, like Jeff Sessions and Mike Lee-- with one exception... Chairman Grassley of Iowa, a purple state.

As Carl Hulse reported today for the NY Times, "Grassley has seemed uneasy with the situation both in Iowa and in Washington. As photographers stalked him on Tuesday outside the Senate chamber, he raised a binder to cover his face before hurriedly retreating... 'Senator Grassley has surrendered every pretense of independence and let the Republican leader annex the Judiciary Committee into a narrow, partisan mission of obstruction and gridlock,' said Harry Reid." By this afternoon Reid and Grassley were in a public spat.

Grassley: "Childish tantrums aren't appropriate for the Senate."

Reid: "A childish tantrum? When we're asking him to do his job? He's chairman of a committee. He should hold hearings, report people out. By refusing to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, or hold a vote, they undermine the presidency, the Constitution and the United States Senate."
We asked Tom Fiegen, the progressive Democrat running for Grassley's seat, if Iowa voters are paying attention and if they're wondering why Grassley is putting a narrow partisan GOP ideology ahead of the best interests of the country, not to mention his own constitutional duty. Please take a look at what Tom had to say below and if you'd like to help his election, he's on the Blue America ActBlue page for candidates who have endorsed Bernie and are running on the same issues that have motivated his campaign. This is the link to that page.  

To Understand U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Follow The Money
-by Tom Fiegen,
Candidate for U.S. Senate, Iowa

Senator Grassley has declared in writing his refusal to interview a replacement judge for the vacancy on the Supreme Court. What's much more interesting is what's behind Chuck Grassley's obstructionism. We have to look behind the curtain to see who is pulling his strings. 

It's the big money contributors.

We're talking about really big money pulling Chuck Grassley's strings. It is the wealthiest of the wealthy, the one-tenth of 1% who consider an Obama Supreme Court nominee a profound threat to their grip on power. Bribes in the guise of campaign contributions might no longer work if the balance on the Supreme Court shifted.

These powerful oligarchs are the ones who really employ and pay Chuck Grassley. They have told him to do whatever it takes to preserve their power. A conservative Supreme Court has given the billionaires and oligarchs the political and economic power to run the country since Reagan. They don’t want to take a chance on losing that power. That’s why Chuck Grassley put his refusal to do his job in writing: to reassure the billionaires and the oligarchs that he is following their orders, not ours.

Senator Grassley’s written refusal to do his job is more than the usual partisan political games. This time, everything we care about as American citizens hangs in the balance as a 4 -4 split Supreme Court punts on all the important issues. Things like: police brutality, employer spying, Citizens United, government intrusion into our private lives, corporate fraud, unfair tax havens for the super-wealthy, poisons in our environment, and the very Constitution itself.  Leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court for over a year will mean that our last line of defense against Big Brother government and the billionaire robber barons will be frozen in a perpetual 4 - 4 tie.

82 year old Senator Grassley is running for another six year term this year. Do we really want to reelect a career politican who is willing to put our Constitutional freedoms at risk to please his billionaire contributors?

My name is Tom Fiegen. I am running in the Democratic primary in Iowa to retire Chuck Grassley. I have spent my career representing working people. I am not taking super-PAC money. I am the son of sharecropper parents who worked hard to buy a farm of their own and then faced foreclosure during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s.  If you think a United States Senator should do their job, and represent the people, not the billionaires and the oligarchs, help me retire Chuck Grassley. As Bernie Sanders says, "enough is enough."

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