Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) deserves “an ‘A’ for creativity but an ‘F’ for content” for his scheme to obstruct future nominees to the nation’s second most important court, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said Thursday.
Aron was referring to Grassley’s plan to eliminate three of the four vacant judgeships on the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a plan he raised again at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday.
During that meeting, the committee voted in favor of president Obama’s nomination of Sri Srinivasan to fill one of four vacancies on the 11-judge court. “But don’t be fooled: Today’s vote by no means shows Republicans’ willingness to stop playing games with the president’s nominees. During the same meeting, Grassley announced what amounts to a ‘pre-emptive filibuster,’ declaring his intent to eliminate the other three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, effectively blocking any nominees to those seats,” Aron said.
Grassley cited what he claimed is a light workload for the court, based solely on the number of cases handled by each judge. “That claim is as nonsensical as it is hypocritical,” Aron said.
“As the court’s former Chief Judge, Patricia Wald, has written, ‘The D.C. Circuit hears the most complex, time-consuming, labyrinthine disputes over regulations with the greatest impact on ordinary Americans’ lives . . . . These cases can require thousands of hours of preparation by the judges, often consuming days of argument, involving hundreds of parties and interveners, and necessitating dozens of briefs and thousands of pages of record – all of which culminates in lengthy, technically intricate legal opinions.’”
Aron also noted that “less than a week ago, at another meeting of the same committee, Sen. Grassley’s close Republican ally, Sen. Jeff Sessions said it was wrong to measure caseload by raw numbers without factoring in complexity.
“The hypocrisy is clear when one looks at Sen. Grassley’s own record. When the caseload on the court was lighter than it is now, Sen. Grassley supported President George W. Bush’s nominees to fill all eleven seats on the court.
“The current majority on the D.C. Circuit has used its power to issue decisions undermining protections for workers, consumers, and the environment that affect all Americans,” Aron said. “Sen. Grassley and his allies are using every trick in the book to try to keep it that way.”
“If the Republican obsession with obstruction persists,” Aron said, “then the Senate majority must reform Senate rules to allow the will of the majority of Americans to prevail.”