Chuck Grassley

The 7 Most Ridiculous Defenses Of Donald Trump's Racist Attacks

While Donald Trump is trying to walk back his racist attacks on a federal judge by insisting that he never attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ethnicity or heritage when, in fact, he did several times (a familiar pattern with Trump), his GOP defenders are straining credulity to defend him.

Trump has said that judges of Mexican descent or of the Muslim faith cannot be impartial in a case involving his Trump University scam because of his proposals for building a wall with Mexico and banning Muslims from entering the country, respectively, but according to his supporters, Trump never made such a claims and the real problem is with Judge Curiel.

Here are seven of the most ridiculous defenses of Trump’s comments:

1) ‘It wasn’t racist! He’s calling attention to racism! Hello!’

In what can only be described as a bizarre meltdown, CNN’s resident Trump apologist, Jeffrey Lord, said yesterday that not only is Trump not a racist, but everybody else is racist:

2) Judge Is Like A White Supremacist!

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said today on Sean Hannity’s radio program that Judge Curiel’s membership in a state Hispanic bar association is just like belonging to a white supremacist group, alleging that the group wants to take California “back” from the U.S. “and they’re gonna take it by force if they have to.”

Hunter added that a “Muslim-American judge of Iraqi descent” would not be able to preside over a case involving the late Chris Kyle because he “killed a whole bunch of bad guys in Iraq.”

Hannity, for his part, likened Curiel presiding over a case involving Trump University to a Hispanic or black defendant facing an all-white jury.

Via BuzzFeed:

3) Judge Is Biased!

After insisting that Trump’s claim that Judge Curiel shouldn’t be allowed to hear his case because of his Mexican heritage wasn’t racist, former Gov. Mike Huckabee told Megyn Kelly last night that he believes Judge Curiel is motivated not necessarily by an ethnic bias but by a left-wing political agenda that makes him prejudiced against Trump in the fraud case.

When Kelly asked Huckabee if he has any evidence demonstrating such an anti-Trump political bias, Huckabee conceded that he had none:

4) Obama Is Racist!

While Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., didn’t agree with Trump’s “regrettable” statement, he went on to claim in a rather awkward CNN interview yesterday that he could just as “easily argue that the President of the United States is a racist with his policies and his rhetoric.”

Zeldin said that he would rather talk about what he sees as the racist “micro-targeting to blacks and Hispanics” from the Democratic Party, which is “more offensive to me, what I’ve seen through the years, than this one statement.”

5) Sotomayor Said The Same Thing!

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley invoked remarks made in years past by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in order to defend Trump’s allegation that Judge Curiel cannot be impartial because he’s “a Mexican.”

“I think that you don’t have any more trouble with what Trump said than when Sotomayor said that -- when she was found saying in speeches that, quote, ‘A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,’” the Iowa senator told the Des Moines Register.

While Trump was insisting that Mexican-Americans are inherently disqualified from presiding over a case involving him, Sotomayor was making the exact opposite point, as she was describing the need for a more diverse judiciary that isn’t shaped entirely by the background and experiences of white men.

“I do believe every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experience,” she said.

6) Be Nice!

When asked about Trump’s remarks on the judge’s ethnicity, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that it is unfair for the media to cover Trump like any other candidate for office because it is his first time running for an elected position:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) seems to think Trump is being unnecessarily bullied for his remarks. “Be nice to him. He’s a first-time candidate,” he told reporters. “When you’re in a big race, you make mistakes.”

In a separate interview with The Huffington Post, Hatch speculated that Trump just felt like he was “being picked on.”

“He’s the type of a person who will make comments that sometimes you differ with, and then as he gets to reality on things,” the senator said. “He’ll change his point of view and be, you know, more responsible.”

“I think he does feel like he’s being picked on by the courts. A lot of people who go through the courts feel the same way. He just speaks about it.”  

Hatch’s claim that the media should have a lower standard for Trump is as laughable as it is revealing that the GOP believes Trump should get a pass for his racist remarks.

7) He’s A Member Of La Raza!

Last week, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said that Judge Curiel is biased because he’s a member of the California La Raza Lawyers Association, which she said “is an organization that has been out there organizing these anti-Trump protesters with the Mexican flags… so Mr. Trump is just stating the obvious.”

She added that the group sponsors “criminal rallies” and “criminal protesters” under “the guise of an anti-Trump protest” and “this judge is connected to that.”

“This is not a pro-American group who is out there wanting to get their voices heard, they are out there pushing to destroy, propose anarchy and to stop an American president from running for office,” she said.

Pierson, like many other right-wing commentators, apparently confused the La Raza Lawyers Association with the National Council of La Raza, a Latino group that is a favorite bogeyman of the Right. Aside from the fact that NCLR is not the anarchy-promoting criminal organization that Pierson claims it is, it isn’t even the organization that Curiel is a member of. The two are completely different groups; the lawyers’ organization is nonpartisan and “focuses on the professional development of Latino lawyers and encouraging students to pursue a career in law.”

Grassley Revives 'Wise Latina' Canard To Defend Trump's Racism

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has taken the lead in the Senate GOP’s effort to block Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination in the hope that a President Donald Trump will be the one to name the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement.

Grassley’s blockade became even more problematic this week when Trump launched a racist assault against a federal judge who is hearing a fraud case involving his Trump University. Trump claimed that the judge, who was born in Indiana to parents who emigrated from Mexico, had an “inherent conflict of interest” in the case because he is “Mexican” and Trump is “building a wall.” The presumptive GOP presidential nominee later acknowledged that using the same logic, it was “possible” that a Muslim judge should also be disqualified from hearing a case involving him.

Trump’s comments drew widespread condemnation, including from some of his fellow Republicans, but Grassley, apparently, didn’t see the problem. In a conference call with Iowa reporters today, Grassley equated Trump’s comments with Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s famous “wise Latina” remark that became a right-wing flashpoint during her 2009 confirmation hearings:

“I think that you don’t have any more trouble with what Trump said than when Sotomayor said that — when she was found saying in speeches that, quote, ‘A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,’” he said. “I don’t hear any criticism of that sort of comment by a justice of the Supreme Court.”

Grassley didn’t pull this comparison out of thin air: The same comparison has been popping up all over the right-wing media.

It’s a flashback to 2009, when conservatives latched on to a speech Sotomayor had given in 2001 in which she disagreed with the idea that a judge isn’t influenced by his or her personal background:

Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. … I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, … there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

What Sotomayor’s critics often chose to ignore was that she went on to say that while a judge’s personal experience can’t help but influence how they see the world, a good judge tries to look beyond the myopia of personal experience to understand the lives of others:

I … believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. … [Nine] white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

Sotomayor later clarified in the face of right-wing criticism: “I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experience."

It shouldn’t be surprising that Grassley and some of his allies on the Right are reviving the “wise Latina” attack on Sotomayor as they attempt to defend Trump. In fact, Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel are not that different from how the Right attacked Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings, claiming that simply because she had spoken proudly of her Latina heritage and acknowledged that a person’s background can shape how they see the world she would be driven by “identity politics” rather than the law.

Some claimed explicitly, and many others implicitly, that Sotomayor, who had graduated from Princeton and Yale and had served for many years as a federal judge, was not as qualified as a white judge with a similar record. Pat Buchanan, who is now an enthusiastic cheerleader for Trump, was one of those who made the claim explicitly when he wrote that white Americans “pay the price of affirmative action when their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors.”

We wrote in a report after her confirmation:

Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remarks were taken out of context to imply that she was some kind of ethnic supremacist, and her ruling in the Ricci affirmative action case was wildly distorted to suggest that she was a judicial activist who lived to use the law as a club against white men. Pundits like Rush Limbaugh and elected officials like Tom Tancredo called her a racist. Pat Buchanan charged her with having a “race-based” approach to justice and having demonstrated “a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males.”

On the first day of Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, columnist Eugene Robinson observed:

Republicans' outrage, both real and feigned, at Sotomayor's musings about how her identity as a "wise Latina" might affect her judicial decisions is based on a flawed assumption: that whiteness and maleness are not themselves facets of a distinct identity. Being white and male is seen instead as a neutral condition, the natural order of things. Any "identity" — black, brown, female, gay, whatever —has to be judged against this supposedly "objective" standard.


Thus it is irrelevant if Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. talks about the impact of his background as the son of Italian immigrants on his rulings — as he did at his confirmation hearings — but unforgivable for Sotomayor to mention that her Puerto Rican family history might be relevant to her work.

This seems to be the attitude of the Trump campaign, whose top operative has said that picking a woman or person of color as a vice presidential nominee would amount to “pandering” and whose list of potential Supreme Court picks were all white and mostly men. According to Trump, it seems, only white men can be unbiased and qualified. And Grassley seems to think that’s just fine.

Elizabeth Warren Report Slams GOP Obstruction Of Nominees

Since Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley is making sure that the committee he runs completely ignores Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, one might think that he’s using the extra time to at least process the president’s many circuit and district nominees. Not!

While Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s brazen and unprecedented refusal to consider Garland has drawn a great deal of attention,  PFAW has long reported on how this obstruction, far from being unique to Garland, is an extension of how the Senate GOP has treated President Obama’s lower court nominees for most of his time in office.

Today, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made a tremendous contribution to the national conversation, issuing a new report entitled Going to Extremes: The Supreme Court and Senate Republicans’ Unprecedented Record of Obstruction of President Obama’s Nominees." The senator covers how Republicans have worked hard not to thoughtfully vet both judicial and executive branch nominations, but to slow down their confirmations as much as possible, or block their confirmations altogether.

She uses Senate Republicans’ own statements about the Garland nomination to show the disingenuousness of the rationales for obstruction they present to the public and demonstrates that their obstruction is unprecedented. And with a prosecutor’s efficiency, she makes the powerful case that the GOP has consistently and deliberately slow-walked or blocked altogether the president’s circuit and district court nominees, as well as his executive branch nominees.

Supported with facts and figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, Sen. Warren’s new report is a devastating indictment of a political party that has misused the confirmation process to prevent the executive and judicial branches from functioning effectively to protect consumers and workers, hold large corporations accountable, and protect equality.

As she notes in the report’s conclusion:

From the moment the Supreme Court vacancy arose, Senate Republicans linked arms in an attempt to deny President Obama the full authority of his office in the final year of his presidency. They cynically claimed they wish to “let the people decide,” but the people have already decided. Twice. They elected President Obama in 2008 by nine million votes and re-elected him in 2012 by five million votes. Republicans’ statements over many weeks have made clear that their true interest is what it has been for the past eight years: to block and hinder President Obama at every turn, dragging out or blocking outright the confirmation of nominees across the government and the courts.

As the report shows, the GOP has a shameful record of obstruction going back to President Obama’s first days in office.  The unprecedented blockade against Garland is only the apex of a pattern that has gone on for years.

Cross-posted from the PFAW blog.

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/11/16

  • Andy Towle @ Towleroad: American Counseling Association Cancels Nashville Conference Over Anti-Gay Therapist Law. 
  • Emma Cueto @ Bustle: 100 Methodist Clergy Just Came Out As LGBTQ In A Courageous Statement For Inclusion.

Chuck Grassley, The Do-Nothing Chairman

To: Interested Parties
From: Ari Rabin-Havt, Senior Fellow, People for the American Way; Billy Corriher, Director of Research, Legal Progress, Center For American Progress
Date: May 11, 2016
Re: Chuck Grassley, The Do-Nothing Chairman

Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) refusal to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court highlights a pattern of inaction apparent throughout his leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Grassley’s refusal to do his job goes well beyond his partisan blockade of a qualified nominee to our nation’s highest court. A complete look at his 16-month tenure as Judiciary Committee chairman reveals a pattern of obstruction in service to partisan interests.

  • Grassley’s committee has confirmed circuit and appellate judges at a glacial pace, especially when compared to a similar period during Senator Patrick Leahy’s chairmanship.
  • The Judiciary Committee, under Grassley’s leadership, has done nothing to strengthen and restore the Voting Rights Act, even though attacks on the right to vote have swept across the country.
  • Partisanship and pressure from the far right have resulted in Grassley dragging his feet instead of conducting the committee’s critical functions. The confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, for instance, took longer than any other cabinet appointment since the Eisenhower Administration.  

Under Chuck Grassley Judicial Confirmations Are Proceeding at a Glacial Pace

The responsibilities of a Senate committee chairman extend beyond the hearing room. It is his or her job to guide confirmations through the committee and onto the floor for consideration by the full Senate.

Looking at the data, it becomes obvious that Chuck Grassley’s refusal to do his job goes beyond his Supreme Court obstruction and extends to blocking appellate and district court nominees as well.

According to The Washington Post:

The current Senate’s record is particularly dim on judicial confirmations. Obama has seen 17 lifetime judges confirmed in the past 16 months, compared to 45 for Bush in the same time frame, 40 for Clinton, and a whopping 82 for George H.W. Bush (including Justice Clarence Thomas). [Washington Post, May 5, 2016]

A comparison of Grassley’s tenure under President Obama to Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT), who served as chairman during the last two years of the Bush administration, is striking.

chart 1

By the end of April 2008, Leahy had worked to confirm 45 judges with only 32 nominations remaining before the Senate. Three of these pending nominees had already cleared the committee and four had already received committee hearings. This means that no action had been taken on just 25 nominations.

During the comparable time period between January 2015 and April of this year, Grassley has only managed to confirm 17 nominees, barely a third the number of Patrick Leahy under George W. Bush.

chart 1

Fifty-two of President Obama’s judicial appointments are still pending. Of these, 12 have cleared the committee, and hearings have been held for an additional 6, leaving 33 with no action having been taken.

In the first 16 months of his tenure as Judiciary Committee chairman, Leahy managed to confirm 58% of George W. Bush’s nominees. On the other hand, Grassley has managed to confirm only 25% of Barack Obama’s.

Under Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee Engaged in Unprecedented Obstruction to Slow Confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch

The day Chuck Grassley was sworn in as chairman, President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch was still pending before the Senate. This was after Republicans demanded she not be confirmed during the lame duck session following the 2014 election with control of the chamber due to switch from Democratic to Republican. Confirming the nation’s top law enforcement official should have been a top priority for the committee. Yet it was another 100 days before Lynch would take her place at the Department of Justice.

In comparison, the seven attorneys general prior to Lynch were all confirmed within one month.

chart 1
 [Politifact.com , April 25, 2015]

Lynch cleared the Judiciary Committee at the end of February, more than a month after Grassley took over the committee, an extraordinary amount of time considering the speed with which the previous seven attorneys general were confirmed. As chairman, Grassley was responsible for the floor vote on this confirmation. As in the case of current Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) allowed pure partisanship to stall a critical appointment.

Grassley Willfully Ignoring Voting Discrimination Months Away from a Major Election

The 2016 election will be the first presidential election in more than 50 years without the full strength of the landmark Voting Rights Act to protect against voting discrimination. Nearly three years after the Supreme Court gutted the law in its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, Grassley has done nothing to restore the VRA – not even schedule a hearing – despite widespread evidence of voters being disenfranchised across the country as new state laws and local election practices make it harder to register, to vote, and to have those votes counted.

Already this year, thousands of primary voters in Arizona, North Carolina and other places that lost protections due to Shelby County have suffered voting discrimination – a canary in the coalmine for what could happen in the November general election. It is the responsibility of the Judiciary Committee to—at the very least—hold hearings on restoring the protections previously guaranteed by this critical law. Since taking over the committee, Chuck Grassley has not held a single hearing on the topic.

This abdication of responsibilities is yet another example of Grassley failing to do his job as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Do-Nothing Chair

Chuck Grassley’s 16 months at the helm of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been marred by partisan games that have led to one of the least productive sessions for the Judiciary Committee in decades. While attention has focused on Grassley and McConnell’s refusal to take action on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the totality of the committee’s record demonstrates a failure to do its most basic job.

Judicial confirmations have proceeded at an unprecedentedly slow pace. Grassley’s tenure has also been tarnished by the embarrassingly slow confirmation of Loretta Lynch and its failure to address changes to the Voting Rights Act.

Polling indicates voters across the country are tired of Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee putting partisanship above patriotism and failing to do their jobs. The recent obstruction of Merrick Garland is a symptom of a larger problem that lies at the feet of the committee’s chairman, Chuck Grassley.  

 

More Evidence Grassley And McConnell Only Care About The Far Right

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released Tuesday led to a slew of headlines reflecting the fact that the majority of Americans want the Senate to do its job and begin working to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

“Democrats are winning the Supreme Court fight over Merrick Garland. Big time,” announced the Washington Post

By a 22-point margin (52-30) voters would like to see “the Senate vote on [Justice Scalia's] replacement” this year. When the question was first asked in February, this margin was only a single point (43-42).

Yet Republicans and conservative voters continue to isolate themselves from the rest of the electorate with their intransigence on taking any action on Garland’s nomination.

This is the conundrum for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). They can mollify the radical base of their party or they can do their jobs, consistent with the will of the people. Thus far their choice has been clear.

Grassley once again swore fealty to the radical right on a conference call with the anti-choice organization Susan B. Anthony List on Monday night, promising them “we aren’t going to have a hearing.”

Right now, despite the polling, Republican strategists believe their elected leaders' intransigence serves their own electoral benefit. Josh Holmes, who ran McConnell’s 2014 reelection campaign told the Wall Street Journal, “Any time you are looking at an electorate where you want to ensure the base is motivated to support a candidate, an issue like this helps.” He continued, “by almost any measure that we’ve seen thus far, the voters who fall into that swing category that determine an election just aren’t that interested in the Supreme Court fight.”

Holmes and many Republicans are being misled by the data. Voters want a functional government and elect senators to do a job. They are rightfully repulsed when it isn’t done.

Voters aren’t thinking about the confirmation of Merrick Garland as a fight between liberal and conservative policy outcomes. Instead it is about which party is causing dysfunction in Washington. Republicans are proudly raising their hands to take credit for the chaos, fulfilling the wishes of their base.

However, with polling data trending against them, McConnell and Grassley are putting several of their colleagues in close races in untenable positions. As a greater majority of voters push for action on the nomination, senators in close races are bound to begin to question their leadership’s obstructionist strategy.

Who Is Chuck Grassley Listening To?

Despite holding a “friendly” meeting with Merrick Garland this morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley remains adamant that he will not hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

On the ground in Grassley’s home state of Iowa, a clear rift is being exposed between those who are encouraging Grassley’s continued intransigence and the constituents who are calling for their senator to do his job.

Notably this week, Keith Uhl, a lawyer in Des Moines who helped manage Grassley’s first campaign for the Senate, asked his former boss to proceed with the normal course of events for a Supreme Court appointments and hold hearing and a vote on the president’s nominee.

One the other hand, the anti-gay head of the Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register thanking Grassley for not acting on Garland’s nomination and for “advising that the people need to speak before any further appointments are constitutionally confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States."

For the moment Grassley has made his choice, making his bed with a radical right-wing demagogue. Vander Plaats previously advocated that Congress defund courts whose judges rule in favor of marriage equality. He warned that God might not bless America because a Wiccan led a prayer at the Iowa state capitol. Vander Plaat also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for stating, “don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics.” Vander Plaats also has compared a gay pride event to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Grassley, who once lamented that Democrats were siding with their base over the wishes of the American people, has made the decision that the support of Bob Vander Plaats and other conservative movement figures is more important than fulfilling his constitutional duties.

The difference could not be illustrated more starkly: a former campaign manager asking his boss to do the job he helped elect him to do, versus a radical conservative who would like to see judges’ salaries subject to whether they issue decisions he agrees with.

Grassley has clearly made the wrong choice.

Courting Extremism: Chuck Grassley Gives Away The Game And Donald Trump Outlines His Judicial Strategy

Courting Extremism is a weekly feature on conservative responses to the Supreme Court vacancy.

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of voters want the Senate to hold hearings on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans continue to refuse to even let Garland answer questions.

In doing so, they are taking orders from — and sometimes directly repeating the talking points of — the conservative interest groups that are desperately trying to keep the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat open in the hopes that a Republican president will nominate a conservative ideologue to fill it. The Republican Party’s presidential frontrunner has even gone so far as to say that he would outsource the selection of the next justice to these groups.

Here are five ways the GOP has tried to support its Supreme Court blockade this week:

5) The Heller Lie Lives On

Republicans seem to have given up trying to find anything in Garland’s record that might disqualify him serving on the Supreme Court and seem content instead to just repeat blatant falsehoods about his judicial career.

For example, conservative activists have repeatedly claimed that Garland voted to uphold a Washington, D.C., handgun ban when the appeals court he serves on heard an early version of the Heller case. (The Supreme Court eventually used the case to dramatically expand gun rights.)

However, Garland never voted on the case. In fact, he never even heard the case.

Garland only voted to have the case, then known as Parker vs. District of Columbia, reargued in front of the entire Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a three-judge panel on the court held that the handgun ban was unconstitutional. It is not uncommon for the court to have major cases reargued in front of all of its judges; in fact, one of the court’s most conservative members also voted to have the full court hear the case. However, the vote to rehear the case wasn’t successful, so Garland never ended up ruling on the matter.

But this didn’t stop Virginia Republican Party Chairman John Whitbeck from falsely claiming that Garland did in fact vote in favor of upholding the handgun ban:

"When Justice Antonin Scalia wrote his watershed opinion in D.C. v. Heller, it marked the first time that an individual right to keep and bear arms was recognized by the Supreme Court by a razor thin 5-4 vote," Whitbeck wrote.

"Now President (Barack) Obama is attempting to replace Justice Scalia with Judge Merrick Garland, an avowed opponent of our Second Amendment rights. While Justice Scalia voted to overturn D.C.’s draconian gun laws, Judge Garland voted to uphold them," the chairman added, emphasizing the second sentence with bold type.

“It’s simply inaccurate to say Garland’s vote to reconsider the case is tantamount to a vote to uphold D.C.’s gun restriction or to extrapolate from it the nominee’s position on the case,” Warren Fiske of PolitiFact wrote in response to Whitbeck’s anti-Garland appeal. “So we rate Whitbeck’s claim False.”

This falsehood, which is being pushed by the National Rifle Association, the Judicial Crisis Network and other outside groups, is also being repeated by Republican senators attempting to justify their blockade of Garland’s nomination.

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, for instance, cited Garland’s supposed “disregard for Second Amendment rights” when he backed away from his previous support for holding a hearing on the nomination.

4) Family Ties

One of the groups pushing this dishonest smear of Garland has been the Judicial Crisis Network, the organization that was “founded in 2005 as the Judicial Confirmation Network, a pressure group with the goal of confirming President Bush’s federal judicial nominees in his second term in office.”

This group has been at the forefront of the conservative opposition to Garland’s nomination, shaping the movement’s messaging and spending at least $4 million on ads pressuring GOP senators to keep up their blockade.

JCN’s outsized role in the Supreme Court blockade, however, belies the fact that it is a tiny organization funded by an insular dark-money network centered around a single family of conservative operatives.

JCN has relied heavily on funding from a dark-money group called the Wellspring Committee, which is led by Ann Corkery. Coincidentally enough, Corkery’s husband, Neil, serves as the treasurer of JCN. Ann Corkery has also steered more than $1 million from Wellspring to a group called the Catholic Association, another group run by her husband.

Media Matters points out that the Corkery family isn’t the only one benefiting from the connection between JCN and Wellspring: “Michael Casey, who is listed on Wellspring’s 990 financial disclosure forms as its secretary and treasurer, is the son of Republican operative Dan Casey, who is a member of JCN’s board and is reportedly ‘the political and PR brains’ of the organization. Dan Casey is also listed on the Catholic Association Inc.’s 990 financial disclosure forms as its secretary and one of its directors.”

“[I]n 2011, the ties between these two dark money machines grew even closer when Ann Corkery sacked her two fellow board members at Wellspring and replaced them with her daughter and the son of JCN board member Casey, according to IRS filings and former board members,” The Daily Beast notes.

While JCN is the product of a small, well-financed group of right-wing interests, it has, in its effort to shut down the judicial confirmation process, attempted to pose as a group of everyday Americans who just really, really want the Senate to be more obstructionist.

3) Grassley’s Bizarre Speech

One of the most vocal supporters of the GOP’s Supreme Court blockade has been Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who also just so happens to be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a remarkable speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Grassley attempted to justify his refusal to hold hearings on Garland’s nomination by claiming that it is in fact Chief Justice who has politicized the high court … by sometimes ruling in ways that do not advance the GOP’s agenda.

The extremely conservative Roberts, Grassley said, has made the court a political institution because he does not always “vote in a way that advances conservative policy.” As a Republican appointee, Grassley said, the chief justice should have upheld the GOP’s point of view in cases regarding the Affordable Care Act and, by not doing so, has helped politicize the court.

Dahlia Lithwick unpacks the senator’s “ insane logic ”:

Grassley now says that the only way to depoliticize the court would be to appoint nominees who conform their political views to those of the Republican Party. “Justices appointed by Republicans are generally committed to following the law,” he said. And then he argued that the court is too political because Republican nominees don’t act sufficiently politically. “There are justices who frequently vote in a conservative way,” he said. “But some of the justices appointed even by Republicans often don’t vote in a way that advances conservative policy.”

Wait, what? So the problem for Grassley isn’t “political” justices—it’s justices appointed by Republicans who don’t advance “conservative policy” 100 percent of the time. And with that, he revealed his real issue. His Senate floor attack isn’t about depoliticizing the court at all. It’s about calling out Roberts for being insufficiently loyal to the Tea Party agenda when he voted not to strike down Obamacare.

What is really being said here is that there is only one way to interpret the Constitution and that is in the way that “advances conservative policy.” According to Grassley’s thinking, a justice who fails to do that in every single case before him or her is “political” and damaging the court.

Now that Grassley believes that the duty of a Supreme Court justice is to advance the goals of the conservative movement, it shouldn’t come as any surprising that he is refusing to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee.

This is in clear contrast to what Grassley said before Obama took office, when he insisted that senators should focus solely on a nominee’s qualifications in order to prevent the confirmation of “political hacks” from either side:

… I probably had the same concerns about President Clinton and Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg when I voted for them. Regarding the political positions that Justice Ginsburg stood for in her life before coming to be a judge, I wouldn't agree with many of them. But she was totally qualified to be on the Supreme Court, and I voted for her based upon the proposition that Alexander Hamilton said that the purpose of our activities here of confirming people for the courts is basically two. Maybe there is some historian around who will say Grassley has it all wrong, but I think it was, No. 1, to make sure that people who were not qualified did not get on the courts. In other words, only qualified people get appointed to the courts and that political hacks do not get appointed to the courts.

2) The Grassley Rule, Updated

Given that Grassley is now openly admitting that he only wants to confirm conservative policymakers on the Supreme Court, it should come as no surprise that the he also made it clear this week that the GOP’s blockade of Garland’s nomination is motivated by conservative interest groups with a partisan agenda:

“Conservative groups are very much behind what we’re trying to do,” Grassley said following a town hall event at Northwestern College in Orange City. “They figure that if this president appoints somebody, you’re going to have a lot of negative freedom-of-religion decisions, a lot of negative gun decisions, a lot of negative political-speech decisions. So we want to make sure the court doesn’t veer to the left.”

Once again, the best person to counter Grassley’s argument is Grassley 11 years ago.

Back in 2005, the Iowa senator criticized his Democratic colleagues for supposedly being beholden “to far left pressure groups” in their opposition to a handful of extreme Bush nominees and showing more “loyalty to what is probably their base” than to Americans at large.

1) The Trump Court

The Senate GOP’s effort to prevent President Obama from filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court has always been about its desire to have a Republican president shape the court, even if that means leaving the court short-staffed for a year or longer.

Indeed, these Republicans believe that the next Supreme Court justice should be selected by either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, a man who doesn’t seem to know how the Supreme Court works.

Both leading Republican presidential candidates have already expressed a desire to see the court overturn — or, in Trump’s words, “unpass” — the landmark Roe v. Wade and Obergefell rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality, respectively. “I’d like to have the person tailored to be just like Justice Scalia,” Trump said.

In a sign of just how powerful conservative pressure groups have become within the GOP, Trump has even said he would effectively let the right-wing Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation pick the next justice.

Among the potential justices that the Heritage Foundation has recommended are Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who believes that major programs like Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional, and Bill Pryor, a federal judge who has similarly lambasted New Deal programs and called Roe v. Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.”

Such justices would shift the court even farther to the right that it is now, putting the social safety net, environmental regulations and reproductive rights in jeopardy.

Grassley Admits Conservative Groups Are Behind His Supreme Court Blockade

In 2005, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, accused Democrats of being beholden to “far left pressure groups” and “out of touch with the vast majority of Americans” when it came to judicial confirmations.

Today, Grassley admits that “conservative groups are very much behind” his obstructionism as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he has refused to so much as hold a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

2005:

“The reality is that today's Democrat Party seems to be beholden to far left pressure groups who know their radical agenda for America can only be implemented by judicial fiat. I am sad to say that the other party has expressed an unquestionable loyalty to what is probably their base but a base out of touch with the vast majority of Americans.”

2016:

Conservative groups are very much behind what we’re trying to do,” Grassley said following a town hall event at Northwestern College in Orange City. “They figure that if this president appoints somebody, you’re going to have a lot of negative freedom-of-religion decisions, a lot of negative gun decisions, a lot of negative political-speech decisions. So we want to make sure the court doesn’t veer to the left.”

Grassley said on the Senate floor yesterday that he only wants to confirm justices who “vote in a way that advances conservative policy.”

We profiled some of the conservative groups that Grassley admits are behind his Supreme Court blockade in a recent report.

 

The New Grassley Rule: Justices Must 'Vote In A Way That Advances Conservative Policy'

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, after flip-flopping on his long-held view that the Senate should do its job and confirm the president’s judicial nominees, went to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon and delivered a rant on the state of the Supreme Court in which he staked out an even more extreme pro-obstruction position, declaring that he only wants to allow conservative policymakers on the court.

Grassley, who as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to so much as hold a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, told his colleagues that of the justices currently on the court, only Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas live up to his standards.

His chief complaint against the current court was that conservative justices sometimes side with their liberal colleagues. He announced on the Senate floor that “there are justices who frequently vote in a conservative way. But some of the justices appointed even by Republicans often don’t vote in a way that advances conservative policy.”

This was very different than the standard set by Grassley during George W. Bush’s presidency, when he told his colleagues:

… I probably had the same concerns about President Clinton and Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg when I voted for them. Regarding the political positions that Justice Ginsburg stood for in her life before coming to be a judge, I wouldn't agree with many of them. But she was totally qualified to be on the Supreme Court, and I voted for her based upon the proposition that Alexander Hamilton said that the purpose of our activities here of confirming people for the courts is basically two. Maybe there is some historian around who will say Grassley has it all wrong, but I think it was, No. 1, to make sure that people who were not qualified did not get on the courts. In other words, only qualified people get appointed to the courts and that political hacks do not get appointed to the courts.

That is somebody who was around when the Constitution was written, and the Federalist Papers, stating those things about our role. So I have a fairly flexible point of view of how I ought to look at people, even those with whom I disagree.

Grassley's pronouncement that it is the job of conservative justices to "vote in a way that advances conservative policy” contradicts the reasons he gave for voting against Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation. He said then:

Our American legal tradition demands that judges not take on the role of policy makers, but that they check their biases, personal preferences and politics at the door of the courthouse. The preservation of our individual freedoms depends on limiting policy-making to legislatures, rather than unelected judges who have life-time appointments.

We now have an addendum to the Grassley Rule: Democratic appointees must “check their biases,” while Republican ones must “vote in a way that advances conservative policy.”

Courting Extremism: Donald Trump's Supreme Court And Chuck Grassley's Revisionist History

Courting Extremism is a weekly feature on conservative responses to the Supreme Court vacancy.

Donald Trump, currently the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary, believes that Barack Obama is an illegitimate president who isn’t a natural born citizen. So it’s only natural that Senate Republicans, having apparently decided that Obama’s second term in office only lasted for three years, seem intent on letting a future President Trump pick the next Supreme Court justice.

Not only would delaying a Supreme Court confirmation until the next president takes office leave the court short one justice for about a year, it could let Trump set the direction of the court for decades to come.

Conservative activists have pressured Republican leaders into taking an extreme stance that is opposed by a majority of voters, a stance so ridiculous that it even requires some Republicans to ignore their past statements on the judiciary.

Here are the five worst pro-obstruction arguments, blatant changes of heart and accidental admissions of truth that conservatives have made about the Supreme Court this week:

5) ‘Let’s Do Our Jobs’

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has been feeling the heat over his support for the GOP’s Supreme Court blockade. In fact, his staff even went so far as to keep details of his public meetings with constituents a secret in order to avoid protests over the matter.

Perhaps Grassley would rather not talk to his constituents about why he thinks the Senate shouldn’t even hold a hearing on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination because back in 2005 he was making exactly the opposite argument, telling his colleagues in a Senate floor speech about judicial nominees: “Let’s do our jobs.”

4) The Judicial C̶o̶n̶f̶i̶r̶m̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ Crisis Network

It’s hard not to roll your eyes when the Judicial Crisis Network demands that Senate Republicans ratchet up their unprecedented obstruction of Garland and other judicial nominees when one remembers that prior to President Obama’s swearing-in, the group was called the Judicial Confirmation Network. Indeed, JCN was created for the sole purpose of encouraging the Senate to confirm President Bush’s nominees, especially his most extreme and controversial ones.

Now JCN is targeting Garland, a man JCN’s own leader implied in 2010 would make a suitable replacement for Justice John Paul Stevens.

“But of those the president could nominate, we could do a lot worse than Merrick Garland,” JCN chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino said at the time. “He’s the best scenario we could hope for to bring the tension and the politics in the city down a notch for the summer.”

Not only is Severino trying to reverse herself on Garland, but she is even trying to alter the history of her own group.

In a March interview, Pennsylvania radio host Bobby Gunther Walsh spoke with Severino about the JCN and hailed her organization for its work confirming judicial nominees during the Bush administration.

When Walsh incorrectly claimed that the group was called the Judicial Crisis Network at the time — suggesting that it was formed to fight Senate Democrats who were supposedly bent on creating a “crisis” in the courts — Severino chose to let Walsh’s false claim stand and went on to attack Democrats for trying to “repeat false facts over and over again.”

3) NRA’s Lawyer Problem

The NRA has been one of the most vocal opponents of Garland’s nomination, and has even pushed outright falsehoods in hopes of blocking his nomination. The group has insisted that Garland ruled against gun activists in the landmark Heller case and supported a national gun registry. Both claims are completely false, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives like Bill O’Reilly and Larry Pratt from running with the bogus talking points.

But at least one NRA leader didn’t get the memo.

Timothy Johnson of Media Matters points out that one of the organization’s top lawyers lavished praise on Garland, although he toed the Senate GOP’s line that no nominee for the high court should be considered until after a new president takes office.

The NRA's dishonest and fiery rhetoric on Garland is at odds with the views of one of the organization's top constitutional litigators, conservative lawyer Charles J. Cooper.

Cooper, "a longtime stalwart of the Federalist Society" who often represents the NRA and other conservative interests in his private appellate litigation practice, praised Garland in a March 28 interview, saying his respect for Garland has only grown since he supported Garland's nomination to the D.C. Circuit in 1997.

In a 1997 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cooper noted that his legal philosophy differed from Garland's, but also wrote, "Not only is Merrick enormously gifted intellectually, but he is thoughtful as well, for he respects other points of view and fairly and honestly assesses the merits of all sides of an issue," and that should he be confirmed, "He would comport himself on the bench with dignity and fairness."

Asked about the letter by The Washington Post, Cooper said his "high opinion of Judge Garland has not changed -- indeed, it has only strengthened -- over the course of the 19 years since I wrote these words." (Cooper, however, does support Senate Republicans in obstructing Garland's nomination for political reasons.)

Among the cases Cooper was involved in? The Heller case, the very one that the NRA is citing in its false attacks against Garland.

2) Looming Dictatorship

Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and one of his top campaign surrogates, raised the issue of gun rights in an interview on Monday, warning that with “one more liberal justice” will lead Americans to “lose our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

Not only would Americans be stripped of their gun rights if a “liberal justice” were to be appointed to the court, Cruz warned, but America could transform into an authoritarian state: “[T]hink back in history: Every dictator that has taken the guns away from the population has used them against the population.”

1) The Trump Court

While Donald Trump may have struggled with knowing exactly what the Supreme Court does or what the right to privacy has to do with abortion rights, he has been clear that he has wanted to outlaw abortion ever since a friend who had contemplated terminating a pregnancy ended up raising a “super star” kid.

On Wednesday, Trump went on to take three different positions on abortion rights in three hours, and it remains unclear exactly what he believes.

But what Trump has made clear is that he plans to appoint to the Supreme Court only ultraconservative jurists in the mold of Antonin Scalia, ones who would likely support overturning Roe v. Wade and uphold state efforts to curtail abortion rights. He even said he would pick a justice from list of potential nominees issued by the Heritage Foundation, an anti-choice group led by Jim DeMint, who was “one of the most die-hard anti-choice lawmakers” during his time in the Senate. (The organization has since released a list of their conservative dream justices).

While Trump has reversed his position on whether women who have abortions should be punished, a Supreme Court shaped by Trump could make such a prospect a reality.

Chuck Grassley On Judicial Confirmations: 'Let's Do Our Jobs.' (But That Was 2005)

While discussing the confirmation of judges, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had a message for his fellow senators: “Let’s do our jobs.” But that was 2005.

Eleven years ago, with a Republican in the White House, Grassley was emphatic that the Senate act quickly on the president’s judicial nominations, telling colleagues that slowing down the confirmation process was “like being a bully on the schoolyard playground.”

According to Grassley in 2005, for the Senate to do its job, George W. Bush’s nominees would have to receive up-or-down votes. Today, apparently, doing his job as chairman of the Judiciary Committee does not even include holding hearings on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.

One wonders what 2005 Chuck Grassley would say to his 2016 self. In April of that year, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Grassley told host Chris Matthews that “every nominee should have an opportunity to have an up-or-down vote.”

That same month in a statement on his website titled “Talking Judges to Death,” the Iowa senator wrote, “It’s time to make sure all judges receive a fair vote on the Senate floor.”

Grassley continued to make his case during a May speech on the Senate floor, telling his colleagues, “It’s high time to make sure all judges receive a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.”

In the same speech, he complained that he and his colleagues were being “denied an opportunity to carry out their constitutional responsibility,” telling the Senate, “That is simply not right. The Constitution demands an up-or-down vote. Fairness demands an up-or-down vote.”

Grassley charged that Democrats wanted “to grind the judicial process to a halt for appellate court nominees so they can fill the bench with individuals who have been rubberstamped by leftwing extreme groups.”

In 2005 Democrats opposed a small number of nominees based on their extreme ideologies. In contrast, Grassley and today’s Republicans have made it clear that they will oppose anyone nominated by Obama, no matter their qualifications or ideology, essentially seeking to undo the 2012 presidential election.

Today the only rationale for Grassley’s own intransigence is fear of the far right and their demand that Republicans obstruct the president’s Supreme Court appointment.

Grassley’s advocacy for the Senate doing its job did not stop in the spring of 2005. In September of that year, after President Bush appointed John Roberts to the Supreme Court, Grassley cited Alexander Hamilton in claiming that “the purpose of our activities here of confirming people for the courts” was “to make sure that people who were not qualified did not get on the courts. In other words, only qualified people get appointed to the courts and that political hacks do not get appointed to the courts.”

He noted that “maybe there is some historian around who will say Grassley has it all wrong.”

In that same speech he stated that the president “had a mandate to appoint whom he wanted appointed, as long as they were not political hacks and as long as they were qualified” and that the president had “primacy in the appointments to the Supreme Court.”

In January 2006, with the appointment of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, Grassley put out a press release that once again cited Alexander Hamilton:

The Constitution provides that the President nominates a Supreme Court Justice, and the Senate provides its advice and consent, with an up or down vote.  In Federalist 66, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “it will be the office of the President to nominate, and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint.  There will, of course, be no exertion of choice on the part of the Senate.  They may defeat one choice of the Executive, and oblige him to make another; but they cannot themselves choose – they can only ratify or reject the choice he may have made.”

Citations of Hamilton, calls for the Senate to do its job, discussions of “constitutional responsibility” are now a faded memory.

If Chuck Grassley did recall his words from that year, perhaps he would remember his statement that “in my town meetings across Iowa, I hear from people all the time, why aren’t the judges being confirmed?” He went on to claim, “I hear from Iowans all the time that they want to see these nominees treated in a fair manner, and they want to see an up-or-down vote.”

Home for the Senate’s Easter recess, he is now facing these questions from constituents like Randy Waagmeester, who told his senator at a town hall, “It’s not fair for this man not to get a hearing.”

Another of Grassley’s constituents, Glenda Schrick, told her senator, “There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says we can’t have a hearing and then vote yea or nay, so that we don’t constantly have it thrown at us as Republicans that all we say is ‘no.’”

However, these interactions will be few for the Iowa senator. According to the Des Moines Register “only three of his 19 planned events are publicly announced town hall meetings — and they’re happening in the three most heavily Republican counties in the state in terms of voter registration.”

Instead of running from these challenges, Grassley should simply follow his own admonition from more than a decade ago, come back to Washington, tell his Republican colleagues “let’s do our jobs” and get to work confirming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Ron Johnson's Revisionist History

Johnson's explanation for why he wanted to delay work on filling the 7th Circuit vacancy isn't consistent with the historical record.
PFAW

Courting Extremism: The Week The GOP Admitted Its Supreme Court Blockade Is Based On A Lie

Courting Extremism is a weekly feature on conservative responses to the Supreme Court vacancy.

We are introducing a new series here on Right Wing Watch as the GOP’s obstructionism reaches a new low, with many Republican leaders now claiming that whomever President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court should receive absolutely no consideration from senators, despite their duties as outlined in the Constitution.

In response to the Supreme Court blockade, we will be putting together a weekly update on the Right’s response to the current Supreme Court vacancy.

5) Federalist Society Fine With A Perpetual Vacancy

Originally, Republicans insisted that they were simply upholding a recently-discovered tradition where the Senate refuses to consider Supreme Court nominees in election years.

However, since this tradition doesn’t actually exist, conservatives have become more honest about what’s really going on: they just don’t like the fact that Obama is president.

At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Dean Reuter of the Federalist Society, a major right-wing legal group, commended the Senate GOP leadership for refusing to consider whomever Obama nominates to fill the vacancy. When asked if Republicans should continue to block hearings if the next president is a Democrat, Reuter said he is fine leaving the seat open indefinitely:

There’s no time limit in the Constitution. And there’s nothing magical about there being nine justices. The country started out with six justices, we’ve had as many as ten at some point in time. And as recently as 2010, when Justice Elena Kagan came on the Court, she had been solicitor general so she recused herself in over a third of the cases…I don’t see a sense of urgency.

Unless, of course, a Republican is elected president.

4) Ron Johnson Gives Away The Game

Apparently, the fictitious no-appointments-in-an-election-year tradition only applies to Democratic presidents, at least according to Sen. Ron Johnson.

The Wisconsin Republican said in a radio interview yesterday that “it’d be a different situation” if a GOP president was appointing a justice to the bench, saying that the Senate Republicans would show “more accommodation” to a Republican president.

Johnson might be interested in hearing from his voters: A recent poll found that 62 percent of Wisconsinites say the open Supreme Court seat should be filled this year, and 76 percent “think the Senate should at least see who gets put forward before making a decision on whether they should be confirmed.”

3) ‘We Are Setting A Precedent Here Today’

At least one Republican senator is honest enough to admit that the Republicans don’t have Senate history on their side.

Sen. Lindsey Graham told a Judiciary Committee meeting that the GOP is about to create a new precedent by refusing to even consider a nominee from President Obama, as the Huffington Post reports:

One of the Republican Party's most candid senators, Lindsey Graham (S.C.), admitted Thursday a stark fact that the rest of his colleagues have tried their best to avoid: that their blockade of any Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama is unprecedented.

And he insisted that he was going to go along with it, even though he predicted it would worsen relations between the parties and the functioning of the Senate.

"We are setting a precedent here today, Republicans are, that in the last year at least of a lame duck eight-year term -- I would say it’s going to be a four-year term -- that you’re not going to fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court based on what we’re doing here today," Graham said in an unusual session of the Judiciary Committee, where members debated not bills or judicial nominees, but Obama's right to carry out his constitutional powers in an election year.

"We're headed to changing the rules, probably in a permanent fashion," he said.

Nonetheless, Graham said that “he still supports Grassley's decision not to hold hearings for Obama's nominee.”

2) ‘It’s A Political Argument’

While Senate Republicans insist that they aren’t inserting partisanship into the Supreme Court fight and are simply following tradition, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said at CPAC that the fight is all about winning “a political clash.”

In video provided by Democracy Partners and Americans United for Change, King said that he supports the actions of Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley “as long as he’s blocking an Obama appointment.”

1) Who Cares About The Sixth Amendment?

It seems that the GOP is not only ignoring the Constitution’s “advice and consent” requirement but also the heart of the Sixth Amendment.

In a taste of things to come, Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network took to the National Review to attack a possible Supreme Court nominee, Judge Jane Kelly, for having once worked as a defense attorney.

That’s right, Severino seemed to suggest that it is disqualifying that Kelly worked as a defense attorney because her past clients include people accused of vicious crimes.

Of course, everyone accused of a crime isn’t necessarily guilty, and according to the Sixth Amendment, “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial” and “to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

Severino’s outrageous article is also an opportunity to point out that her group, the Judicial Crisis Network, was originally named the Judicial Confirmation Network when it was founded during the Bush administration for the purpose of advocating for the smooth confirmation of judges.

Will Grassley Quit as Judiciary Chair?

Here's what we'd see if Senate Republicans applied to themselves their professed rationale for refusing to consider any Supreme Court nominee by President Obama.
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