Charles Grassley

Grassley Promises Anti-Choice Activists He'll Hold The Line Against Garland

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined a conference call of anti-abortion activists hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List last night to assure them that he would continue to hold the line and refuse to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Also joining the call were Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who delivered an opening prayer.

Grassley told the activists that when someone asked him for an update on the nomination last week, he said that “an update would suggest that something has changed” and that he still intends to block any nominee until the next president takes office.

He said that preventing “another liberal” from joining the Supreme Court was necessary to keep “even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law through the democratic process” from being “swept away.”

Grassley cited a recent National Right to Life poll which he said found that “about 80 percent of Americans don’t believe that abortions should be available after the first trimester.” (It was more complicated than that.)

“But we know that justices who embrace the view that the Constitution is a living document don’t share that view that you and I share,” he said. “The American people, through their elected representatives, should be making these policy decisions, not unelected judges. These are life-and-death issues that we’re fighting for. They show just how important this fight over who’s going to fill Scalia’s seat is.”

In response to a question from SBA List president Marjorie Dannefelser, Grassley suggested that news reports characterizing Garland as moderate are a misleading ploy by the media (one that, if he was correct, he himself and some of his Republican colleagues would be in on).

When Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were nominated, he said, “always in these headlines at the time they were nominated, that adjective was the word ‘moderate,’ just like Garland. Well, we know how those four have turned out. So don’t believe what you read in the press about people’s basic philosophy, because they got it all wrong and probably intentionally all wrong.”

When Dannenfelser asked Grassley to respond to the argument that the Senate is neglecting its job by refusing to even consider Garland’s nomination, Grassley repeated his claim that it would actually be a waste of taxpayer money to give Garland a hearing.

“Well, we could have a hearing, we aren’t going to have a hearing, but let’s just suppose we could have a hearing,” he said. “And I know 52 people, at least 52 in the Senate, aren’t going to approve it. So you have a hearing and you spend a lot of taxpayers’ money gearing up for it, you spend a lot of time of members, a lot of research that has to be done by staff, and then it ain’t going to go anyplace.”

“It’s like getting dressed up for the prom but you don’t get to go,” Dannenfelser said.

GOP Refuses To Meet With Obama On SCOTUS, But Obama's The 'Divisive' One!

Update: Grassley and McConnell have at last accepted Obama’s invitation to discuss potential nominees at the White House, although they are still refusing to hold hearings or a vote on any potential nominee. 

As Senate Republicans close ranks in an attempt to prevent President Obama from nominating the next Supreme Court justice, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have declared that they will refuse to hold a hearing on Obama’s nominee, no matter who it is. On top of that, the Des Moines Register reports that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, hasn’t even responded to an invitation from the White House to discuss possible nominees.

The Republicans’ unprecedented Supreme Court blockade exposes the lie that has undergirded eight years of GOP obstructionism: that President Obama is “the most divisive” president in history and that he refuses to reach across the aisle.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who just an hour after the news broke of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, made it clear that he didn’t intend to consider any Obama nominee to fill Scalia’s seat, has called Obama the “most divisive” president he’s worked with. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican senator and presidential candidate, has said that Obama is the most “divisive” political figure in modern history. The claim has been repeated over and over again in talk radio and the halls of Congress. Texas Republican senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz complained after Obama’s final State of the Union address last month that the president “lectures us on civility yet has been one of the most divisive presidents in American history."

As Paul Waldman wrote in “The Week” last month, the primary example of the “divisive” Obama that Republicans point to is that he “crammed ObamaCare down our throats” — a strange way to explain a bill that became law through the legislative process.

Waldman noted:

Let's just remind ourselves of how Republicans have treated Obama over his seven years in office, with a few of the greatest hits. You can start right on the day of his inauguration, when congressional Republicans gathered for a dinner at which they decided that rather than seek areas of cooperation with the new president, they would employ a strategy of maximum confrontation and obstruction in order to deny him any legislative victories.

They followed through on this plan. As Mitch McConnell explained proudly in 2010, "Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny Barack Obama a second term."

The Affordable Care Act itself was designed as something of a political compromise solution, containing elements of plans previously championed by Republicans. But Republicans in Congress closed ranks against the reform, eventually shutting down the government in protest of the law.

Senate Republicans’ attitude toward Obama’s judicial nominees has followed a similar pattern,even before the current Supreme Court showdown. As we noted last week, right-wing pressure groups and their allies in Congress, including Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, were trying to shut down the federal judicial confirmation process in Obama’s final year before Scalia’s death.

If Grassley is really now refusing to even meet with Obama to discuss potential Supreme Court nominees, the Right should finally retire its talking point that it’s Obama who refuses to reach across the aisle.

Alberto Gonzales: No 'Standard Practice' Of Blocking Justices In Election Year

Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel and attorney general under George W. Bush, is one of the handful of Republicans who has broken ranks to say that President Obama does indeed have the right to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

In an interview with Newsmax TV yesterday, Gonzales repeated his argument and skewered the claim from Sen. Chuck Grassley , chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that it is the Senate’s “standard practice” not to confirm Supreme Court justices during a presidential election year.

“If there is such a standard practice within the Senate, it’s one that I’m not aware of and I was not made aware of when I was White House counsel or as attorney general,” Gonzales told Newsmax’s Ed Berliner. “Again, not having served in the Senate, I can’t speak with authority as to what is standard practice, but certainly if that is the standard practice, that was never communicated to the Bush White House or the Bush administration.”

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Dan Gilgoff reports that retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, who endorsed an Indiana ballot initiative banning gay marriage in 2007 and accepted an award from the right-wing Indiana Family Institute, has been invited to join the White House's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. We have released a statement criticizing the move, as has Americans United - and Pastor Dan likewise disapproves and Sarah Posner says the White House is running low on slots to "represent a cross-section of American religion."
  • As Steve Benen says "It's had to argue with logic like that."
  • Religion Clause notes that Sen. Charles Grassley says he may subpoena records from those televangelists who have failed to cooperate with him in his investigation of their financial dealings.
  • David Neiwert catches Newt Gingrich advocating draconian measures for drug users in America.
  • AU's Rob Boston is hoping that "Obama’s future appointments annoy the Religious Right as much as [David Hamilton] has."
  • Terry Krepel reports that the Western Journalism Center is back.
  • Pam notes that Sally Kern fits right in among the legislators in Oklahoma.

Grassley Gets Bounced From Iowa Delegation

Normally, merely being a Republican Senator from any state in the nation would all but assure said Senator of getting a spot on his or her state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in September.  But not if you are Charles Grassley of Iowa and your state party has been taken over by right-wing zealots who are upset about your investigation into potential financial improprieties at several high-profile televangelist ministries:   

Evangelical Christians in Iowa, dominant in the state's Republican Party, have denied Sen. Charles E. Grassley his request for a place on the state's delegation to this summer's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Grassley may attend the party's Sept. 1-4 nominating convention in St. Paul, but not as a voting delegate.

With a majority of nine out of 17 members on the Iowa Republican central committee, religious conservatives made Iowa Christian Alliance President Steve Scheffler chairman of Iowa's 40-member delegation in a vote immediately after their state party convention July 12.

"The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues," the just-ousted Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts told The Washington Times. "It hurts John McCain's chances to win this state."

Other party officials said money for the party is drying up because of past mismanagement and current religious dominance, which has turned traditional Republican politics upside down.

"It's pretty well controlled now by the Christian Alliance," Mr. Roberts said. "If somebody came to me and wanted to be a delegate to the national party convention, I used to say, 'Talk to the state party chairman or to Grassley.' Now it's very simple. You go to the Christian Alliance, and they determine who is a delegate, and you have to do exactly as they say."

In recent weeks, religious activists replaced Mr. Roberts as the national Republican committeeman and also replaced the national committeewoman with pro-life advocates who also oppose gay marriage.

Barring Mr. Grassley from voting-delegate status is seen as a blow to him as the senior Republican official in the state, who normally might have led the convention's delegation.

Mr. Grassley had said "yes" when asked by Iowa Republican Chairman Stewart Iverson if he wanted to be a voting delegate to the national convention, Mr. Iverson said.

Political observers in Iowa saw the move against Mr. Grassley as retribution for his having tangled with evangelical pastors in his state. He initiated a Senate Finance Committee investigation of six televangelists for conspicuous personal spending.

GOP's Preacher Candidate Politicizes Effort to Depoliticize Church

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has withdrawn from an effort to disentangle Baptists from partisan politics – citing politics. Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a Southern Baptist pastor, was invited and expected to attend a meeting of the New Baptist Covenant organized by former President Jimmy Carter to bring together members of the North American Baptist Fellowship, African-American Baptists, the Southern Baptist Convention – which was “taken over” by theological (and, largely, political) conservatives more than 20 years ago but has recently made motions toward centrism – and others around common-ground issues like poverty and AIDS. Huckabee, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley were among prominent Southern Baptist Republicans invited, joining prominent Baptist Democrats Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore.

This effort to establish the New Baptist Covenant’s bipartisan credentials has been stymied, however, by Huckabee’s withdrawal over comments made by Carter in the political realm. After Carter criticized President Bush’s foreign policy, Huckabee told the Florida Baptist Witness that the comments were “unbecoming to one whose conference is supposed to be about civility and bringing people together.” Also complaining that Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, whom Huckabee described as “very, very liberal,” would be speaking, Huckabee said,

In light of the program and roster of speakers, as well as the very harsh comments toward our president this weekend, I feel it would be best for me to decline the invitation and to not appear to be giving approval to what could be a political, rather than spiritual agenda.

Huckabee was in Florida that day, along with fellow presidential candidate Sam Brownback, to speak to the far-right Florida Family Policy Council (a state affiliate of Focus on the Family). The two long-shot candidates, popular among the Religious Right, apparently impressed the partisan crowd (which included Republican National Committee chair Mel Martinez). But while Brownback was willing to share the stage with Democrat Barack Obama at Rick Warren’s megachurch to talk about global AIDS last winter – in spite of vicious criticisms from the far Right – Huckabee is apparently unwilling to give up the partisan mantle of his presidential campaign for the Baptist-unity event.

David Currie of Texas Baptists Committed responded,

The [New] Baptist Covenant meeting has never been about politics but about Jesus and unity. The fact is, if we have a meeting and only preachers preach, the national press will not cover our message. If prominent politicians of both parties speak, the national press will cover it. I am sorry Gov. Huckabee withdrew, as I have been impressed with him on TV several times. But I'm sure the Religious Right put great pressure upon him. I wish him well.

Still, Huckabee’s act may gain him some new friends, such as Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention leader who has helped define the SBC’s right-wing political reputation and who had scoffed at the New Baptist Covenant’s aims.

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Charles Grassley Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Tuesday 04/19/2016, 2:03pm
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined a conference call of anti-abortion activists hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List last night to assure them that he would continue to hold the line and refuse to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Also joining the call were Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who delivered an opening prayer. Grassley told the activists that when someone asked him for an update on the nomination last week, he said that “an update would suggest that something has... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 02/24/2016, 2:44pm
Update: Grassley and McConnell have at last accepted Obama’s invitation to discuss potential nominees at the White House, although they are still refusing to hold hearings or a vote on any potential nominee.  As Senate Republicans close ranks in an attempt to prevent President Obama from nominating the next Supreme Court justice, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have declared that they will refuse to hold a hearing on Obama’s nominee, no matter who it is. On top of that, the Des Moines Register reports that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 02/17/2016, 12:31pm
Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel and attorney general under George W. Bush, is one of the handful of Republicans who has broken ranks to say that President Obama does indeed have the right to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In an interview with Newsmax TV yesterday, Gonzales repeated his argument and skewered the claim from Sen. Chuck Grassley , chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that it is the Senate’s “standard practice” not to confirm Supreme Court justices during a presidential election year.... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 03/31/2009, 5:52pm
Dan Gilgoff reports that retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, who endorsed an Indiana ballot initiative banning gay marriage in 2007 and accepted an award from the right-wing Indiana Family Institute, has been invited to join the White House's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. We have released a statement criticizing the move, as has Americans United - and Pastor Dan likewise disapproves and Sarah Posner says the White House is running low on slots to "represent a cross-section of American religion."As Steve Benen says "It's had to argue with logic like that.... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 07/21/2008, 4:48pm
Normally, merely being a Republican Senator from any state in the nation would all but assure said Senator of getting a spot on his or her state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in September.  But not if you are Charles Grassley of Iowa and your state party has been taken over by right-wing zealots who are upset about your investigation into potential financial improprieties at several high-profile televangelist ministries:    Evangelical Christians in Iowa, dominant in the state's Republican Party, have denied Sen. Charles E. Grassley his... MORE >
, Tuesday 05/22/2007, 4:24pm
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has withdrawn from an effort to disentangle Baptists from partisan politics – citing politics. Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a Southern Baptist pastor, was invited and expected to attend a meeting of the New Baptist Covenant organized by former President Jimmy Carter to bring together members of the North American Baptist Fellowship, African-American Baptists, the Southern Baptist Convention – which was “taken over” by theological (and, largely, political) conservatives more than 20 years ago... MORE >