Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had an informal breakfast meeting this morning with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but their interaction wasn’t evidence of progress. The far-right Iowan arranged the meal so that Grassley could tell Garland to his face that the experienced, qualified jurist, who’s enjoyed bipartisan praise, will be the first high court nominee in American history to be denied a hearing and a floor vote.
The GOP senator said soon after that he’ll continue to support his party’s unprecedented blockade, no matter what.
“When I make a decision on sound principle, I am not about to flip-flop because the left has organized what they call a pressure campaign,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor.
To the extent that reality matters, no one is suggesting Grassley flip-flop, because in reality, he’s already flip-flopped – the Iowa senator used to argue, when there was a Republican president, that senators were obligated to consider judicial nominees as part of their professional duties. It’s a little something I like to call The Grassley Rule.
In other words, no one has called for Grassley to flip-flop, so much as they’ve argued that Grassley should go back to his original principles before he flip-flopped.
As for the “pressure campaign” the Iowan claims to be immune from, it’s becoming increasingly interesting to see just how much local urging Grassley is receiving from constituents who still expect to him to do his job responsibly. The Des Moines Register reported today, for example, on a local coffee shop putting its menu to interesting use.
Diners Tuesday morning until noon at Ritual Cafe will find Obstruction Oats, oatmeal topped with hemp nuts, and Garland Granola as options for breakfast.The Justice Delayed Bowl is steamed eggs roasted with peppers and olives. There’s also Constitution Quiche. Confirmation Coffee is hot while Article 2 Iced Toddy is a brew best served cold.Cafe owner Denise Diaz agreed to the menu when approached by Why Courts Matter Iowa, a coalition of liberal groups.
If you haven’t seen it, a picture of the menu is making the rounds. Note, at the top, it tells diners this is the “#DoYourJob Menu.”
And this is just one example – a taste, if you will – of the broader campaign urging Grassley to take his duties more seriously. The Iowa attorney general, for example, is urging the senator to do his job. So is a former Grassley staffer who helped him get elected. So is the former chief White House ethics lawyer in the Bush/Cheney administration, who’s making his case locally.
For his part, Grassley may claim to be unconcerned about the pressure, but he nevertheless felt the need to write a Des Moines Register op-ed this week, arguing that the “sky won’t fall” if the Supreme Court remains deadlocked for a year and a half, so the GOP’s scandalous blockade shouldn’t be seen as particularly important.
But no one should see this as proof of Grassley feeling the heat, of course. No sirree. Pressure? Getting to the senator? Perish the thought.
Finally, we talked last week about Grassley delivering an odd speech on the Senate floor last week, blaming Chief Justice John Roberts for the politicization of the judicial process – because as the senator sees it, the Supreme Court’s chief justice just hasn’t been far enough to the right. Grassley’s speech prompted a striking rebuke from Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick.
Grassley “not only damaged the Senate’s relationship with the court in a way he may not be able to repair,” Lithwick noted, “but also exposed his own hypocrisy as chairman of a judiciary committee tasked with ensuring that the court can function.”
The piece added, “Grassley’s aides like to claim that he believes in his heart that this unexpected election-year vacancy offers the country a rare opportunity for a national debate about the role of the Supreme Court. We have a forum for just such a debate. It’s called a confirmation hearing. But Grassley doesn’t want a debate. He wants a coup.”