Senator Chuck Grassley

  • January 24, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Caroline Fredrickson, ACS President

    Leading up to the federal government shutdown, the judicial nominations process further broke down.

    For the second time, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, advanced a nominee without support from a home-state Senator. He scheduled a confirmation hearing on Jan. 24 for Michael Brennan, who President Trump nominated to a seat on the 7th Circuit Court without even consulting with the home-state Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

    Traditionally, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee would only plan hearings for nominees who have the support of both of their home-state Senators. These two Senators turn in a blue sheet of paper, known as a blue slip, to the Chair as an indication of their approval for a candidate. With few previous exceptions, the Committee holds hearings for judicial nominees with blue slips.

  • January 24, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board member and Former Deputy Counsel to President Obama

    The Senate runs on trust.

    Senator Patrick Leahy, as the Senate’s most senior member, knows this better than anyone. So last June, I took heart when he said, with respect to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and blue slips on judicial nominations:

    “He told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman. And I take him at his word.... I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never broken his word to me.

    Last October, Senator Leahy reiterated, “Chairman Grassley has told me he will respect the blue slip tradition, just as I did. I trust him to keep his word.”

    This wasn’t just Chairman Grassley’s word in a private conversation among Committee leaders. In 2015, Chairman Grassley wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register, stating:

    “For nearly a century, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has brought nominees up for committee consideration only after both home-state senators have signed and returned what’s known as a “blue slip.” This tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus between the White House and home-state senators. Over the years, Judiciary Committee chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process, including Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, my immediate predecessor in chairing the committee, who steadfastly honored the tradition even as some in his own party called for its demiseI appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it.

    And while Chairman Grassley did enforce blue slips during the Obama Administration—preventing 9 Obama judicial nominees from receiving a hearing—last November, he broke his word.

  • June 26, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley again delayed a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on judicial nominees. Luis Felipe Restrepo, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, Travis Randall McDonough, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and  Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, are still waiting to be voted out of committee.

    Senator Patrick Leahy released a statement urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to perform its job of voting on judicial nominees. Leahy pointed out that “the Republican-led Senate has not confirmed a single judge this work period.”

    Alliance for Justice notes that this type of delays are becoming a pattern for Senator Grassley, and he has created three consecutive weeks without a confirmation hearing. The Wall Street Journal questions whether the Senate has truly turned a corner with Republican leadership. The article notes that “the Senate is on pace to confirm the fewest judicial nominations of any recent Congress.”

    There are currently 60 vacancies, and 28 are now considered judicial emergencies. There are 19 pending nominees. For more information see judicialnominations.org.

  • May 15, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    This week the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a letter from Senator Pat Toomey that insists he is not to blame for the delays on the consideration of District Judge L. Felipe Restrepo for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. But it seems clear that the Senator has taken few steps to get the Judiciary Committee to take up Restrepo’s nomination, as the Text & History Blog of the Constitutional Accountability Center explains.

    Few are buying Toomey’s assertion that he is not delaying action on Restrepo’s nomination. The vacancy that Restrepo would fill is currently a judicial emergency, but The Huffington Post reports that it remains unclear when he will get a hearing.

    In other news, a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit may finally have a nominee after sitting vacant for more than five years. As the Constitutional Accountability Center reports, Senator Tammy Baldwin submitted the names of eight possible candidates to the White House this week.

    There are currently 56 vacancies, and 24 are now considered judicial emergencies. There are 17 pending nominees. For more information see judicialnominations.org.

  • May 1, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    On Thursday, President Obama announced five new judicial nominations: Todd Sunhwae Kim to be an Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and Julie Helene Becker, William Ward Nooter, Robert A. Salerno, and Steven M. Wellner to be Associate Judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  

    Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, refuses to admit his part in the delays on judicial nominees. As the Alliance for Justice explains, the senator has claimed that Republicans should take credit for nominees confirmed last congress, but has denied any responsibility for two months of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation wait that occurred in the same time period.

    More troubling still, the senator’s comments at the National Press Club on Monday indicate that he may wish to shut down judicial confirmations entirely. Senator Grassley stated, “Come July of 2015, probably they’ll be cut off and not approving any.”

    The blog of People for the American Way illustrates the problem with cutting off judicial confirmations in July. Not only could this move continue to swell the number of judicial vacancies, but it also comes at a time when the nominees that have presented are being considered at a glacial pace.

    There are currently 55 vacancies, and 23 are now considered judicial emergencies. There are 17 pending nominees. For more information see judicialnominations.org.