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“Donald Trump And Chuck Grassley Look Doomed In Iowa”: No Republican Can Be A Legislator In This Day And Age

Looking at the internals of the Loras College Statewide Iowa Survey, it seems like it’s a pretty well put together poll. Comparing their sample to the latest Iowa registration numbers, it appears that Loras may have undersampled the NO Party/Independents, but they have about the right mix of Democrats and Republicans. And, in any case, an undersampling of independents probably skews the results towards Donald Trump and Chuck Grassley.

For example, Grassley has a net favorable/unfavorable rating of 48%/42% with independents, and is losing with them to Patty Judge by a 41.9%-48.0% margin. So, if you add more independents to the sample, he probably loses his overall 46% to 45% lead.

Likewise, Donald Trump is getting crushed 48%-34% (-14) in the poll, but among independents he’s losing by a mammoth 44.7%-23.5% (-21) margin.

The survey is made up of 35.0% Republicans, 33.0% Democrats, and 29.8% Independents, but according to the Secretary of State, there are now more independents (670,068) than Republicans (639,476) or Democrats (610,608) who are registered to vote in the Hawkeye State. Maybe the independents don’t turn out at the same rate as party members, so it’s possible that the sample is dead-on. What’s doubtful is that it is skewed toward the Democrats.

Either way, it shows that Donald Trump is not competitive and Chuck Grassley is in a dead-heat. It’d be tempting to blame Grassley’s woes on Trump’s unpopularity (54.7% of Iowans have a very unfavorable view of Trump, and 68.9% have an overall unfavorable view of him), but we know that Grassley has been in the news as the lead architect of the Senate’s refusal to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It’s costing him because he’s historically been very popular but he now has a 41.4% unfavorable rating. That’s not terrible, but it’s far below where he’s been in the past. If he’s going to hold on, he’s going to need a lot of crossover votes, but less than a quarter of Democrats (24.8%) have a favorable view of him right now.

Now, Grassley has been in Congress since 1975 and a senator since 1981. He’ll be 83 years old on Election Day. I don’t know if this is really how he wants to go out. I am not even sure why he wants to continue in the job. He’s got to be frustrated. Just this week he had to announce that he almost definitely won’t be able to get his criminal justice reform bill through the Senate this year.

“I don’t see how it gets done before” July 15, Grassley said, referencing the day the senators depart from Washington and won’t return until after Labor Day. “It’s a real big disappointment to me because we’ve worked so hard to do what the leadership wanted to get out more Republican sponsors.”

The criminal justice reform bill was probably the best chance this Congress had to pass a meaningful bill and they can’t get it done. Unless Grassley just likes the prestige and lifestyle of being a senator, I see no reason for him to want to continue. He used to be a legislator, but no Republican can be a legislator in this day and age, and certainly not under a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

If I were him, I’d drop out before Patty Judge cleans his clock in November.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Donald Trump, Patty Judge | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Eight Is Not Enough”: An Equal Division Is Essentially The Same As A Denial Of Review

Last month, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), feeling pressure over his role in an unprecedented Supreme Court blockade, wrote an op-ed in which he insisted the whole mess is unimportant. The “sky won’t fall” if the Supreme Court remains deadlocked for a year and a half – eight justices is plenty – so the Republicans’ unprecedented scheme isn’t worth all the fuss.

Actual justices on the high court appear to feel differently. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged publicly yesterday that the institution she serves is, in fact, being hurt by having eight justices instead of nine. The Washington Post reported:

The Supreme Court has deadlocked 4 to 4 in several cases since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. Ginsburg told judges at a conference in New York that the situation is unfortunate because it essentially means important issues are being denied Supreme Court review, according to a copy of her prepared remarks.

“That means no opinions and no precedential value; an equal division is essentially the same as a denial of review,” Ginsburg said.

She added, “Eight, as you know, is not a good number for a multi-member court.”

Ginsburg is hardly the only one who’s noticed. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick noted last week that the Supreme Court can pretend that “it can manage just fine with eight justices,” but the fact remains that the institution is struggling to do its job.

Nobody on the court can say: “Please give us a ninth justice so we can get back to work.” That sounds like a plea for a Justice Merrick Garland. That is why it’s left to former Justice John Paul Stevens to say it for them. Even if all eight justices were to agree that between being unable to take any cases for next term, and being unable to decide major cases this term, things are not getting done at the court.

The same week, the editorial board of the New York Times added, “Every day that passes without a ninth justice undermines the Supreme Court’s ability to function, and leaves millions of Americans waiting for justice or clarity as major legal questions are unresolved…. Despite what Senate Republicans may say about the lack of harm in the delay in filling the vacancy, the court cannot do its job without a full bench.”

By all appearances, the Senate’s Republican majority doesn’t care – according to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), it’s somehow fair to treat Merrick Garland unfairly – but they should.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 27, 2016

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Chuck Grassley’s Supreme Court Coup”: To Protect The Court From Politics, Seat Nine Chuck Grassleys And Go Home

Sen. Chuck Grassley is in a tough spot. The Republican from Iowa, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has to decide whether or not to grant Judge Merrick Garland a hearing or to continue the unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. When a guy dressed like Ben Franklin is trolling you through town halls in Iowa, you know you’re in trouble.

But Grassley’s bigger problem is that he has indicated in the past that he knows better than to take a torch to the Supreme Court for the sake of partisanship. Like most court-watchers, Grassley is well aware that the institution is often political, and that it always has been. But like most court-watchers, he is also aware that the continued viability of the institution rests on the jagged myth that the court can transcend politics and those moments when the court actually lives up to that ideal.

Grassley surely knows better than most that the court has only the public’s esteem to shore it up—and he knows better than anyone that the public trust demands at least some confidence the judicial project is about more than brute power and party loyalty.

Grassley knows all that, but as pressure on him has ramped up to hold hearings—and a vote—on a seat that remains empty, he’s apparently decided it doesn’t matter anymore. On Tuesday, Grassley gave a speech that went after the Supreme Court as a purely political institution, pantsing the entire high court, and Chief Justice John Roberts by name, on the floor of the United States Senate. In so doing, he not only damaged the Senate’s relationship with the court in a way he may not be able to repair, but also exposed his own hypocrisy as chairman of a judiciary committee tasked with ensuring that the court can function.

Grassley went after Roberts specifically for having the temerity to give a speech before Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, where he noted that “the [nomination] process is not functioning very well” and that well-qualified nominees—including current Justices Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor—should have been confirmed along bipartisan lines.

No way, said Grassley. If politics have overtaken the nomination process, it’s the court’s fault. “What’s troubling is that a large segment of the population views the justices as political,” Grassley said. And whose fault is that? “The justices themselves have gotten political,” he declared. “And because the justices’ decisions are often political and transgress their constitutional role the process becomes more political.” In fact, Grassley added, (apolitically) his own constituents believe that Roberts “is part of this problem.”

“They believe that the number of his votes have reflected political considerations, not legal ones,” Grassley continued, adding with a flourish “so, physician, heal thyself.” To add a little mob flair, he then warned the chief not to insert himself into Garland’s nomination fight.

To be fair to Grassley here, we should consider: Isn’t he just telling the truth about politics influencing court opinions?

The problem with this defense is that the judiciary chair’s double-helix of hypocrisy gives him no standing to call out Roberts or any member of the court. Grassley has—at various times in his career—argued that the court is different from the other two patently political branches. For instance: In January 2006, with Alito having just been appointed to the high court, Grassley argued that the politics had nothing to do with the nomination process, nor the court. “The Senate’s tradition has been to confirm individuals who are well qualified to interpret and to apply the law and who understand the proper role of the judiciary to dispense justice,” he said. This coming from the man who is now arguing that politics is the reason we can’t have a hearing.

But the extra special hypocrisy sauce here is that Grassley now says that the only way to depoliticize the court would be to appoint nominees who conform their political views to those of the Republican Party. “Justices appointed by Republicans are generally committed to following the law,” he said. And then he argued that the court is too political because Republican nominees don’t act sufficiently politically. “There are justices who frequently vote in a conservative way,” he said. “But some of the justices appointed even by Republicans often don’t vote in a way that advances conservative policy.”

Wait, what? So the problem for Grassley isn’t “political” justices—it’s justices appointed by Republicans who don’t advance “conservative policy” 100 percent of the time. And with that, he revealed his real issue. His Senate floor attack isn’t about depoliticizing the court at all. It’s about calling out Roberts for being insufficiently loyal to the Tea Party agenda when he voted not to strike down Obamacare.

What is really being said here is that there is only one way to interpret the Constitution and that is in the way that “advances conservative policy.” According to Grassley’s thinking, a justice who fails to do that in every single case before him or her is “political” and damaging the court. By this insane logic, the only way to protect the court from politics is to seat nine Chuck Grassleys and go home. And to achieve this type of court he will stop at nothing, including trash talking the entire institution from the Senate floor and threatening the chief justice who will, because he is chief justice, decline to respond.

Again, remember back at the time of the fight over Alito when the same Sen. Grassley warned, “the Supreme Court does not have seats reserved for one philosophy or another. That kind of reasoning is completely antithetical to the proper role of the judiciary in our system of government.” What that seems to have meant in retrospect: There is only a single judicial philosophy and if I don’t get a nominee who shares that philosophy, I’ll happily slander the whole court.

Grassley’s aides like to claim that he believes in his heart that this unexpected election-year vacancy offers the country a rare opportunity for a national debate about the role of the Supreme Court. We have a forum for just such a debate. It’s called a confirmation hearing. But Grassley doesn’t want a debate. He wants a coup.

Speaking Thursday afternoon at the University of Chicago Law School on the court’s role, President Obama warned against exactly this form of dangerous and destructive politics. When people “just view the courts as an extension of our political parties—polarized political parties” he warned, public confidence in the justice system is eroded. “If confidence in the courts consistently breaks down, then you see our attitudes about democracy generally start to break down, and legitimacy breaking down in ways that are very dangerous.”

Sen. Grassley has made the choice to hold no hearings and have no vote for an eminently qualified jurist because—as he has now openly stated—there are only two legitimate justices on the Supreme Court, the two who agree with his viewpoint 100 percent of the time. Grassley, and the rest of his Republican colleagues who continue to refuse hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland, have seamlessly and shamelessly turned the entire judicial branch into their own, private constitutional snowglobe.

 

By: Dahlia Lithwick, Slate , April 7, 2016

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Conservatives, Judiciary, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Let’s Do Our Jobs”: Maybe It’s Time For The ‘Grassley Rule’

The Democratic line on the ongoing Supreme Court fight is pretty straightforward. Indeed, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) summarized it well a couple of weeks ago when she told her Republican colleagues, “Do your job.”

For weeks, the Republican response has been rooted in semantics. Technically, the Constitution gives the Senate an “advise and consent” role in the confirmation process, but since the document doesn’t literally say senators have to vote on a nominee, the GOP argument goes, then maybe Republicans can do their jobs by refusing to do their jobs.

It’s a clumsy and unpersuasive pitch, but that’s the talking point and they’re sticking to it.

At least, that’s the argument now. Right Wing Watch yesterday dug up an interesting quote from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who said in 2005, in reference to judicial confirmations, “Let’s do our jobs.”

Eleven years ago, with a Republican in the White House, Grassley was emphatic that the Senate act quickly on the president’s judicial nominations, telling colleagues that slowing down the confirmation process was “like being a bully on the schoolyard playground.”

According to Grassley in 2005, for the Senate to do its job, George W. Bush’s nominees would have to receive up-or-down votes.

In May 2005, Grassley said to deny a senator an up-or-down vote on a judicial nominee would be to undermine a senator’s “constitutional responsibility.”

Perhaps, the right will argue, standards change when it’s a seat on the Supreme Court at stake. Maybe so. But the same Right Wing Watch report noted that when then-President George W. Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the high court Grassley issued a fascinating press release quoting Alexander Hamilton:

The Constitution provides that the President nominates a Supreme Court Justice, and the Senate provides its advice and consent, with an up or down vote. In Federalist 66, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “it will be the office of the President to nominate, and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint. There will, of course, be no exertion of choice on the part of the Senate. They may defeat one choice of the Executive, and oblige him to make another; but they cannot themselves choose – they can only ratify or reject the choice he may have made.”

Grassley now believes, however, that he has the authority to block a qualified Supreme Court nominee from even receiving a confirmation hearing.

Obviously, 2005 Grassley would be outraged by 2016 Grassley. In fact, given Senate Republicans’ propensity for making up “rules” out of whole cloth, perhaps these new revelations could serve as the basis for a Grassley Rule: in order for senators to do their job, they actually have to consider Supreme Court nominees.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Party Of ‘No Way!'”: G.O.P. Embraces The George Wallace Demagogues; Less Governing, More Gridlock

Perhaps the most important thing Washington will do this year is decide whether to approve President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. But Republicans have already announced their decision: “No way!”

It’s rich for Republicans to declare pre-emptively that they will not even hold hearings on an Obama nominee, considering that they used to denounce (while their party held the White House) the notion that judges’ nominations shouldn’t proceed in an election year.

“That’s just plain bunk,” Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in 2008. “The reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.” His sense of reality has since changed.

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said in 2008, “Just because it’s a presidential election year is no excuse for us to take a vacation.”

In fairness, Democrats have also been hypocritical. In 1992, when George Bush was president, then-Senator Joe Biden said an election-year vacancy should wait to be filled the next year.

A pox on all their houses!

Let’s tune out politicians’ rhetoric in both parties and look at the merits of the arguments. Supreme Court justices rarely die in office, and in recent decades they have mostly chosen to step down before election years. But despite what Republican senators would have you believe, there have been a number of Supreme Court vacancies filled in election years.

In the 20th century we had six:

■ In 1912, the Senate confirmed Mahlon Pitney, nominated by William Howard Taft.

■ In 1916, the Senate confirmed both Louis Brandeis and John Clarke, nominated by Woodrow Wilson.

■ In 1932, the Senate confirmed Benjamin Cardozo, nominated by Herbert Hoover.

■ In 1940, the Senate confirmed Frank Murphy, nominated by Franklin Roosevelt.

■ In 1988, the Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy, who had been nominated by Ronald Reagan the previous November.

A counterexample is Abe Fortas, whose nomination to be elevated from associate justice to chief justice in the summer of 1968 was killed by a filibuster by Republicans and Southern Democrats. But that’s a horrifying bit of history for Republicans to rely upon, because the main reasons for opposition to Fortas were that he favored civil rights and was Jewish. His ethical lapses mostly emerged later.

Republicans suggest that it’s standard for a Supreme Court vacancy to be held over when it occurs during an election year. Since 1900, I can find only one example of something close to that happening: In the fall of 1956, after Congress had adjourned and Senate confirmation was impossible, William Brennan received a recess appointment, then in 1957 was nominated and confirmed.

It’s ironic that this tumult should bedevil a replacement for Antonin Scalia, who emphasized the constitutional text. The Constitution gives no hint that the Senate’s “advice and consent” for nominations should operate only in three out of four years.

If Republicans block Obama’s nomination, Scalia’s vacancy will last more than a year, compared with a historical average of resolving nominations in 25 days. To date, the longest Supreme Court nomination in American history lasted 125 days, and it looks as if we will easily break that record this year.

The larger issue here is obstructionism. When I was growing up, the G.O.P. was the serious, prudent, boring party, while the Democrats included a menagerie of populists, rascals and firebrands. Today it’s the G.O.P. that embraces the George Wallace demagogues, and its aim is less to govern than to cause gridlock. That’s not true of everyone — the House speaker, Paul Ryan, seems to have genuine aspirations to legislate. But to be a Republican lawmaker today is too often to seek to block appointments, obstruct programs and shut down government. Politics becomes less about building things up than about burning them down.

Both parties are open to expanding the earned-income tax credit, to early childhood programs, to better approaches to heroin addiction, to supporting women with obstetric fistula, to reducing violence against women worldwide. Yet practical measures to address these issues stall in Congress. The party of Lincoln is now the party of “No,” refusing even to invite the president’s budget director to testify on an Obama budget, as is customary. Congress is expected to accomplish next to nothing this year.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the apotheosis of this disregard for governing. Cruz’s entire congressional career has involved antagonizing colleagues and ensuring that nothing gets done. And Trump barely bothers with policies, just provocations.

All this is ineffably sad. I expect politicians to exaggerate and bluster. But I also expect them to govern, and that is what many in the Grand Old Party now refuse to do.

In that case, should they really be paid? Just as we have work requirements for some welfare recipients, maybe it’s time to consider work requirements for senators.

 

By: Nicholas Kristof, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Obstructionism, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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