Sen. Chuck Grassley has nearly completed his conversion of the Judiciary Committee to his own personal political playground.
Throughout history, the Judiciary Committee has been a crucial check on the power of appointment held by the president. That is no longer the case.
When President Obama was in office, Grassley obstructed nominees at a record rate. Now Grassley has a president of his own party in office, and he is rubber-stamping judicial nominees one after another, even ignoring Senate traditions to do so.
Just this week, Sen. Grassley pushed through the nomination of Michael Brennan to the 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, and in doing so rejected decades of precedent, including his own promises.
Brennan’s nomination by Donald Trump ignored the bipartisan judicial selection process Wisconsin senators of both parties have observed since the 1970s. And his hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, at the direction of Sen. Grassley, was scheduled without the consent of both of the state’s U.S. senators, commonly known as the blue-slip process in which senators indicate their support on a blue slip of paper.
The blue-slip process that allows home-state senators input and approval on judicial nominees from their states is critical. Sen. Grassley has said so himself. In a Des Moines Register oped in April of 2015, Sen. Grassley complimented his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who used the blue-slip process even when those in his own party wanted it to end. Grassley wrote, “I appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it.”
And in a floor statement in 2011, Sen. Grassley stated that “lifetime appointments are too important to the federal Judiciary and the American people to simply rubber-stamp them.”
Finally, in April of 2009, Sen. Grassley signed a letter from GOP senators to President Obama in support of the blue-slip process and deference to home-state senators for nominees within their state by writing that “we, as a Conference, expect it to be observed, even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation.”
Why won’t Sen. Grassley stand up to those in his own party who want the blue-slip process to end, as Sen. Leahy did, or live up to his past promises? Given his past proclamations in support of checking the president’s powers, it is hypocritical and disappointing that Sen. Grassley has abandoned the blue-slip process, allowing President Trump to override home-state senators and turning the Judiciary Committee into a rubber stamp for his nominees.