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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

“Republicans Have Crippled The Supreme Court”: America’s Highest Court Is Under Severe Strain Because Of The GOP

This is what a broken Supreme Court looks like.

Three weeks before the official end of the 2015-16 term, there are 22 cases still outstanding. On Monday, with several high profile cases eagerly anticipated by court-watchers, the Court only announced two relatively minor opinions. It looks likely that the Court will need to extend its own deadline.

And then, on the same day, the bizarre news that, Oops, one of the two issues the Court said it would hear in a death penalty case next fall – it won’t actually hear.  Never mind!

That kind of sloppiness is rare.  On the merits, it’s not that important, but procedurally, it’s a highly unusual screw-up.

It’s impossible not to see these events in the context of a short-handed Court, now four months without its full complement of judges, doing its best to stay on top of things.  And not always succeeding.   All of this, of course, is due to the completely unprecedented stonewalling by Senate Republicans of a perfectly qualified candidate to fill that vacancy.

In recent weeks, there have also been more subtle, but more destructive, consequences of the Senate’s oath-breaking, Constitution-scorning inaction.

Last week, the liberal advocacy organization People for the American Way published a report analyzing the effects of two tie decisions that have come down since February.  In one, the Court left in place a split between the Sixth and the Eighth Circuits regarding spousal guarantees for bank loans.  Despite all the resources invested in resolving this legal issue, federal law now remains uneven; requiring such guarantees is legal in some circuits, illegal in others.  To be sure, bank loan guarantees is not a high-profile issue, but it is one that affects thousands of people every year.

More politically charged was the Frierichs case, which the Court left unresolved on March 29.  That case was about whether public-sector unions could require non-union employees to pay a “fair share fee” to pay for collective bargaining and other costs.  Without such fees, progressives argue, the unions might go out of business, ultimately hurting employees.  With them, conservatives complain, they compel public employees to effectively join a union and support its political activities; that violates the First Amendment.

Who’s right?  The Court was deadlocked, so we don’t know the answer.

Then there are the cases like Zubik v. Burwell, in which the Court, rather than decide a contentious issue about religious exemptions and Obamacare, proposed and ordered its own makeshift compromise, resolving the particular dispute but leaving key questions unresolved about religious exemptions, which is driving controversies in North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and around the country.

It’s also quite possible the Court will either deadlock or punt on some of the major cases remaining this term, including Whole Women’s Health, a case about Texas’s abortion restrictions.  Assuming Justice Kennedy votes to uphold the regulations, that will place the Court in a 4-4 split, and leave the Fifth Circuit’s decision – which mostly upheld the restrictive rules – in place.

But here’s where it gets even more complicated.  Last June, the Supreme Court placed an injunction on enforcement of the law, pending the outcome of the case.  So what happens if the Court deadlocks?  Is that an “outcome,” or no outcome at all?

Functionally speaking, allowing the Fifth Circuit opinion to stand means the Texas law is Constitutional.  And that, according to experts, would require the majority of abortion clinics in Texas to close. A 4-4 decision may sound like a tie, but there’s no tie when it comes to those clinics, and the women who use them.  They’re either open or they’re closed – and it’s not at all clear why one side should prevail in a tie.

Worst of all, this supreme dysfunction may become the new normal.  As Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz wrote recently in the Washington Post, it’s quite plausible that confirmation stonewalling will become commonplace anytime there is divided government in Washington.  It’s not as if the Democrats are just going to forgive and forget – they’ll fight fire with fire.  (This, incidentally, is one of many reasons Fred Barnes’s ludicrous celebration of the anti-Garland stonewall was so myopic.)

And it’s not even just the Supreme Court; as we reported earlier, the Republican-created “judicial emergency” extends to lower courts as well, with a record number of vacancies going unfilled.  Mainstream GOP leaders may be criticizing Donald Trump for attacking a Mexican-American judge, but they are attacking the entire judicial system.

So this is what a broken Supreme Court looks like: behind schedule, making careless mistakes, deadlocking, contorting itself to achieve consensus, and sometimes failing to fulfill its Cconstitutional responsibility to maintain the rule of law.  Senate Republicans have acted like the Garland stonewall presents just a small inconvenience in the service of “letting the people decide.”  But in fact, it is a full-on fiasco.  Its only positive outcome would be the generation of enough rage to throw the bastards out.

Several years ago, a judge wrote that when, as in cases of recusal, “The Court proceeds with eight Justices,” it “rais[es] the possibility that, by reason of a tie vote, it will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case” and “impairs the functioning of the Court.”

That judge was Justice Antonin Scalia.

 

By: Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast, June 7, 2016

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Judicial System, Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“He’s Not Paying Close Enough Attention”: McConnell Boasts, ‘There Is No Dysfunction In The Senate Anymore’

Good news, America, the United States Senate, after years of exasperating impairment, is finally a healthy, functioning institution – according to the man whose job it is to lead it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat down with Charlie Rose this week and made a boast that was literally unbelievable.

MCCONNELL: We have done a lot more than you think we have. And the reason for that is everybody is angry about their own situation in life. They’re blaming the government which is understandable. But there is no dysfunction in the Senate anymore. And I’ve just given you a whole list…

ROSE: Because Harry Reid is now the minority leader and you are the majority leader.

MCCONNELL: That’s right.

No, it’s not.

Look, I can appreciate why McConnell, who’s arguably done more than anyone in modern history to disrupt how the upper chamber functions, wants the public to see the Senate in a positive light. The state of the institution is obviously a reflection on McConnell’s own leadership, and if voters believe the chamber is governing effectively, perhaps the electorate would be more inclined to leave the Senate in the hands of his Republican majority.

But to declare that Senate dysfunction is a thing of the past is pretty silly.

Consider the judicial confirmation process, for example. McConnell and his GOP brethren have imposed the first-ever blockade on any Supreme Court nominee regardless of merit. Pressed for a defense, the Majority Leader and other Senate Republicans have presented a series of weak talking points burdened by varying degrees of incoherence.

And it’s not just the high court, either: district and appellate court vacancies languish as the GOP majority generally refuses to consider one of its most basic governmental responsibilities.

And it’s not just judges. It took the Senate 11 months to confirm an uncontroversial U.S. Ambassador to Mexico nominee. An uncontroversial Army Secretary nominee faced an unnecessary wait that was nearly as long as part of an unrelated partisan tantrum.

In the meantime, the Senate can’t pass its own bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill, hasn’t passed a budget, is taking its sweet time in addressing the Zika virus threat, still requires supermajorities on practically every vote of any consequence, and is on track to give itself more time off this year than any Senate in six decades.

If McConnell is proud of what the chamber has become, perhaps he’s not paying close enough attention.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“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

“Not Even Their Own Voters”: Republican Blockade Failing To Persuade American Mainstream

The Washington Post observed this week that Democrats “are winning the Supreme Court fight over Merrick Garland. Big time.” Dems aren’t exactly succeeding in convincing Republicans to end their unprecedented Supreme Court blockade, but the party has apparently fared pretty well in the court of popular opinion.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll started asking an important question soon after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February:

“Recently, a Supreme Court Justice passed away leaving a vacancy on the court. President Obama has nominated a new person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Would you prefer the U.S. Senate vote this year on the replacement nominated by President Obama or leave the position vacant and wait to vote next year on the replacement nominated by the new president or do you not have an opinion one way or the other?”

When the question went to the public just a few days after Scalia’s death, Americans were closely divided: 43% said they’d like to see the Senate vote this year on the Supreme Court’s vacancy, while 42% said they’d prefer to see the vacancy filled next year by a new president.

A month later, in March, the numbers shifted a bit in the Democrats’ favor. This month, in a poll that was in the field last week, they shifted even more. Now, a 52% majority of Americans want a vote this year, while 30% want to leave the seat vacant until next year.

What was a one-point advantage for the White House’s position in February is a 22-point advantage now. A closer look suggests even Republican voters are starting to shift away from their own party’s position.

At least for now, there’s no evidence to suggest Senate Republicans care at all about public opinion. GOP leaders very likely expected their blockage, which has no precedent in the American tradition, would be unpopular, but they decided to go with it anyway. I doubt poll results like these shock anyone.

But if you’re one of the vulnerable Senate Republican incumbents worried about your re-election prospects, and you were counting on the vaunted GOP Messaging Machine to win over the American mainstream on your party’s Supreme Court gambit, the latest evidence serves as a reminder: Republicans aren’t persuading anyone, not even their own voters.

That may not be enough to convince GOP senators to act responsibly towards a compromise nominee, but it should be enough to make some senators very nervous.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 21, 2016

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Public Opinion, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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