I like Chuck Grassley. I've voted for Chuck Grassley. Like a majority of Iowans, I can't remember a time when Chuck Grassley was not in office.
None of that makes what the venerable Iowa senator right in what he is doing this season, virtually holding a vacant Supreme Court seat hostage.
Grassley should relent and allow for the appropriate hearings to be held. But he won't. He can't.
The same bulldog stubborness we so admire in Grassley when he is fighting for an issue of importance to Iowans is the same quality that likely won't allow him to admit he has been wrong, or to change his mind after listening to an opposing argument. And that can be a problem.
Grassley likes to say his action on the Supreme Court nomination process is intended to give the American people control of the choice.
If that were true, and a Republican president was sitting and making a nomination in the appropriate fashion, Grassley would block a GOP nominee from having a chance to speak too, so that a possible Democrat could be elected to the White House to make the choice.
Do you believe that would happen?
If you follow Grassley's line of thinking, in fact, maybe no president in a second term would ever have the right to make a nomination to any major post, because the electorate might change the party eventurally.
Clearly, obstruction isn't about finding the best person for the Supreme Court, but a roll of the dice intended for leveraging power for a political party and its ideology.
Which, of course, is nothing new.
If senators feel an inappropriate candidate has been forwarded by a president, they have the right and the power to challenge that nomination, argue against a nominee, or simply vote against confirmation of that candidate. But that isn't what is happening here. Senators aren't showing a reason a nominee should not be appointed, they are preventing a nominee from being heard by the nation. It amounts to censorship, and it is a strategy never employed before, for good reason. It's not right.
If Grassley really wants the public to choose, wouldn't he want the public to hear what a nominee has to say? And the arguments for and against nominating that person? Wouldn't he want a complete and transparant hearing?
The public doesn't choose, of course, and never has, not matter who is president. It is the Senate's responsibility to conduct a hearing and weigh a potenital justice's capabilities. It is their job.
The Supreme Court isn't a Republican body, or a Democrat body, for politicians to tinker with. We depend on it being balanced, open and fair-minded. It isn't important whether a Democrat or Republican president makes the nomination, or a Democrat or Republican majority Senate votes on the confirmation.
What is important, is getting the right person in the right job, especially since these crucial positions are basically life tenure.
Senator Grassley feels a complete, nine-member court is not necessary. But leaving a seat vacant creates the very real possibility of 4-4 deadlocks, leaving important issues unresolved. That's just what has just happened on an important California case on unions. A deadlock, widely expected after Justice Scalia's death, allows a 1970s -era rule that authorizes unions to force municipal employees, teachers, college instructors and transit workers to pay a "fair share fee" to help cover the cost of collective bargaining, to stay on the books.
The court is an odd number by design, to prevent deadlocks and the necessity of further snarling the court system in re-hearings.
Is it really wise to go for a year, maybe more, with a seat left empty on the highest court in the land - just to see how an election comes out?
If Grassley is wrong to obstruct the process, his rabid Democrat critics may be equally manipulative in their glee in attacking the senator, trying to use the Supreme Court situation to forge an upset of Grassley's re-election bid.
The editor of the Iowa Daily Democrat says that Grassley "has betrayed his commitment to the democratic principles which Iowans expect and the constitution demands," and suggests he "must be retired."
Those are harsh words for a senator who has been know for decades for his inpendent streak, sometimes battling his own party leaders for what he thinks is right. Grassley is a lot of things, but a lapdog has not been one of them. I can't agree with those who are screaming that Grassley is suddenly hellbent to destroy the constitution.
I do think he has taken a mistaken approach to one issue, and that his pride and the iron-willed, uncompromising approach to politics that have served him so well in the past will prevent him from reversing course, even if it hurts his re-election chances with a public increasingly annoyed with partisan politics.