Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa





Grassley Statement at Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting on Judicial Nominations

Nov 30, 2017
Prepared Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Executive Business Meeting
November 30, 2017
Good morning. Last night, Senator Feinstein told me that her Members had a meeting that would last until 10:30, so I moved today’s markup half an hour back. Because of the accommodation, I’d ask that after opening statements by the Ranking Member and me, and after we have the necessary number of Members here to vote, we do so. Then, we’ll continue with any other Member statements.
Today, we have a number of nominees on today’s agenda for the first time and the Minority has requested that they be held over. They are:
  • James Ho, 5th Circuit
  • Don Willett, 5th Circuit
  • Claria Boom, Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky
  • John Broomes, District of Kansas
  • Rebecca Jennings, Western District of Kentucky
  • Robert Wier, Eastern District of Kentucky
Mr. Grasz’s nomination to the 8th Circuit is on today’s agenda. The Minority requested that he be held over last week. Typically, Members are allowed to hold over a nominee for one week and then the Committee will vote on the nominee the following week.
But Senator Feinstein has requested that he be held over again this week because she indicated she wants to consider some information she received about Mr. Grasz’s ABA rating on Tuesday. I believe she’ll be writing a follow-up letter to get this situation fully resolved.
I’m willing to accommodate Senator Feinstein’s request this week and will hold Mr. Grasz’s nomination for one more week.
The follow-up materials we received from Mr. Grasz this week appear to indicate that the ABA relied on faulty information in their evaluation of him. I believe the Committee should be able to resolve this issue in the next week.
This is a special accommodation that I’ll make. But this is a rare exception to our standard practice.
And, I’ll just say to you, Senator Feinstein, the letter you sent to me asking that Mr. Grasz be held another week indicates to me that you’re looking into his record and that you haven’t yet decided how you’re going to vote. Of course, if you already knew how you were going to vote, this seems to be a meaningless endeavor. But I’m glad for the nominee to be able to have an opportunity to clarify the record and to clear up his reputation on the issue.
I’ll now turn to Senator Feinstein for her remarks.
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Executive Business Meeting
November 30, 2017
Since Senators brought the issue up, I want to briefly make a few comments regarding yesterday’s nominations hearing and the blue slip history.
My colleagues made some statements yesterday regarding the blue slip courtesy that suggest I’m abandoning the 100-year tradition. Clearly, they didn’t read my floor statements or they’re choosing to ignore the 100-year history of the blue slip. 
First, I’ve said repeatedly that I’m maintaining the blue slip courtesy. I’m keeping the policy that the vast majority of my predecessors had. A negative or unreturned blue slip will not necessarily prevent a hearing unless the White House failed to consult with home-state senators. This policy comes directly from a long line of practice including Chairman Joe Biden’s letter to President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
Of course, Senator Leahy had his preferred blue slip policy, which required both home state senators to return blue slips before he’d schedule a hearing. That was his prerogative as Chairman. But it was out-of-step with historical practice. And it’s not my blue slip policy. 
Second, my colleagues have accused me of having a different blue slip policy for President Obama’s nominees in 2015 and 2016. This isn’t true. Five of the nominees who didn’t receive a hearing were district court nominees. As I’ve explained repeatedly, I’m unlikely to proceed on district court nominees without two positive blue slips. 
It’s worth mentioning that my Des Moines Register op-ed—which Senator Franken brought up yesterday—concerned two district court nominees. Nothing in the editorial suggests I planned to strictly require two positive blue slips from home-state senators for circuit court nominees.
With respect to the four circuit court nominees who didn’t receive hearings, I explained yesterday that their nominations simply came too late in the Congress to process. They were nominated in a presidential election year. Assuming a similar timeline as Justice Stras’s nomination, we wouldn’t have held a hearing for these nominees until July 2016—during the political conventions and when the Leahy-Thurmond Rule presumptively barred additional confirmations. 
I also pointed out that these four nominees lacked floor support and it would’ve been a waste of time and resources to proceed. That was my judgment as chairman. Senator Leahy similarly refused to hold hearings for six circuit court nominees for a variety of reasons that didn’t involve blue slips. Likewise, my decision not to hold hearings for these four nominees wasn’t based solely on the lack of blue slips.
Finally, any suggestion that I dragged my feet in scheduling hearings during the final two years of the Obama Administration is untrue. I held hearings for 54 judicial nominees, not far off from Senator Leahy’s hearings for 57 nominees in the final two years of the Bush Administration.