WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is releasing five videos, one every day this week, looking back at memorable moments from his annual 99 county meetings and how they have helped inform his work for Iowans. Grassley holds at least one question-and-answer session with Iowans in each of Iowa’s 99 counties annually, and has done so every year since he was elected to the United States Senate. This week, Grassley is holding meetings in 16 different counties. Today’s video recalls the 2016 Supreme Court vacancy that was left with the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. The video can be found here and the text can be found below.
Justice Scalia’s death created an unexpected vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2016 presidential election. At the time, I served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Our committee has exclusive jurisdiction over judicial nominations to the federal bench. I also was up for re-election that November.
It’s safe to say the vacancy took on a life of its very own, boiling over in the cauldron of election year politics. Looking back, I bore the brunt of a well-financed, well-oiled machine that tried its dog-gone best to turn the court of public opinion against me. But thick skin is a pre-requisite for public office.
My opponents tried just about everything you could imagine. They organized protests and even public stunts to chase me around the state. They used an airplane banner, electronic billboards and one protestor even dressed as Ben Franklin. The freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are alive and well in Iowa, I know. Civic engagement in the 21st century is as important today as at dawn of our republic. I didn’t flinch from the extra attention or from my commitment to hold meetings in every county, at least once, every year. If people want to give me a piece of their mind, it’s my job to listen as a representative of the people.
Keeping in touch with my constituents keeps me accountable. So does the ballot box. Iowa voters returned me to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. At the start of the 115th Congress, I resumed chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee. From here and my other committee assignments, I’m working harder than ever to represent Iowans and my home state.