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Politics & Policy

Notice Grassley’s Not Flinching on Supreme Court Nominee Hearings

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Notice Grassley’s Not Flinching on Supreme Court Nominee Hearings

Look who’s holding the line against an Obama Supreme Court nominee: Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Also on Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa dug in on blocking all action on an eventual nominee this year, saying Democrats are only criticizing the strategy to score political points. He and other Republicans stood firm in opposition to an election-year confirmation, arguing that American voters should have a say in November.

On Capitol Hill, Grassley said at a committee meeting Thursday that Democrats’ efforts to pressure him to change his mind will be futile. Sen­ate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has delivered daily speeches on the Senate floor against Grassley, sometimes attacking him personally.

“I think we need to be crystal clear, it won’t work,” Grassley said.

The 82-year-old Grassley is up for reelection this year — running for a seventh term — and his likely Democratic opponent is going to make the most out of the Supreme Court nominee issue:

And [Patty Judge] made clear that Grassley’s staunch refusal to entertain a nominee to the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month was the driving force behind her entry into the race.

Judge said on Friday that Grassley was “obstructing justice.”

“I really believe that in recent years and particularly right now he’s kind of forgotten he’s from Iowa,” Judge said. “He waited 36 years to become the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and now he’s refusing to do his job. That is not the Chuck Grassley that I knew 10 or 15 years ago and it’s not the thing Iowans want to see from their senator.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the Senate GOP campaign committee scoffed at Judge’s candidacy, noting that she lost her bid for reelection as lieutenant governor in 2010.

The Democrats are likely to nominate 72-year-old Patty Judge because they want to energize the youth vote against 82-year-old Grassley. I’d say, “never change, Iowa,” but that seems pretty moot, considering the circumstances.

Grassley’s probably going to come through 2016 okay . . . 

The latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll — which was conducted Feb. 21-24, as the court controversy was unfolding — shows Grassley’s approval rating holding steady at 57 percent, while just 28 percent say they disapprove of the job he’s doing.

. . . but his willingness to take the criticism for this stance is worth noting for two reasons. First, there was a time when Grassley was more likely to be more conciliatory to President Obama, to be seen as “bipartisan” and so on. He was perceived as a “moderate,” voted to confirm Eric Holder, and was, for a while, trying to work out a compromise version of the Affordable Care Act. Years of Obama being Obama, trolling and mocking and ignoring Congress, have demonstrated to Grassley there’s no point in trying to appear “bipartisan” or conciliatory.

Second, if there were signs Grassley was willing to hold hearings or support an Obama nominee, the conservative grassroots would raise hell and support a primary challenger. So if there’s willingness to denounce and punish deviations from the conservative position, why isn’t there corresponding willingness to praise and support a lawmaker who takes the conservative position, particularly when it’s tough?

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