People For the American Way

Grassley Tosses Another Precedent Aside to Ram Trump’s Judges Through

Federal Update

The Senate went out on recess last week until after the election so senators can go home and campaign.  All the committees postponed any hearings they’d had scheduled for the next month.

All committees, that is, but one: Chuck Grassley’s Judiciary Committee. He’s scheduled two hearings for judicial nominees during the recess: one this week includes a Fourth Circuit nominee, and another includes a Ninth Circuit nominee.

All ten committee Democrats have sent Grassley a letter condemning this unprecedented breach of tradition and assault against comity, asking him to postpone this hearing and the others he has planned between now and Election Day. As the senators note:

The Committee has never before held nominations hearings while the Senate is in recess before an election. The handful of nominations hearings that have been held during a recess have been with the minority’s consent, which is not the case here — in fact, we were not even consulted. In addition, three of us on the Democratic side represent the Ninth Circuit [where one of the nominees has been nominated], and are unable to return to Washington for a day due to commitments in our states

We have seen this since the beginning of the Trump era, especially with the corrupt Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process: Republicans have an agenda to get their people on the courts, and they aren’t going to let anything stop them.

But we can stop them—on Election Day.

The full letter is below:

Dear Chairman Grassley:

As you know, the Senate is now in a month-long recess until November 13th, after the mid-term elections, with members in their home states. However, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold two nominations hearings on October 17 and 24 with controversial nominees for the Fourth and the Ninth Circuits.

The Committee has never before held nominations hearings while the Senate is in recess before an election. The handful of nominations hearings that have been held during a recess have been with the minority’s consent, which is not the case here — in fact, we were not even consulted. In addition, three of us on the Democratic side represent the Ninth Circuit, and are unable to return to Washington for a day due to commitments in our states.

We take our constitutional duty to vet nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench very seriously. An essential part of that vetting process is an opportunity to question nominees in a public hearing. Holding hearings during a recess, when members cannot attend, fails to meet our constitutional advice-and consent obligations. We respectfully request these hearings be postponed until after the recess.