Prepared Opening Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
Hearing on Nominations
Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 
We have four nominees today: two for the circuit courts, one to be Solicitor General and one to be the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
 
Before speaking about the nominees, I want to address the protest by left-wing activists outside of Justice Kavanaugh’s home last night. A partisan group announced that Justice Kavanaugh was “going to hear from us directly” because he had been “protected from any backlash” for his votes on the Supreme Court.
 
This protest looks like another blatant attempt to intimidate the judiciary and anyone who disagrees with the radical agenda pushed by partisan activists.
 
After all, a leader from this group recently pleaded no contest to criminal trespass and was ordered by a court to stay away from Senator Hawley’s wife.
 
Partisan shots aimed at the independence of our judiciary are concerning. Dark money groups like Demand Justice run dishonest attacks to try to undermine the American people’s trust in the federal courts. These groups do it for partisan purposes. They want to bully judges into ruling in line with their liberal agenda, no matter what the law says. And if that doesn’t work, they want to pack the court. I believe the American people will reject the extreme agenda of these left-wing activists.
 
Now, I also want to speak briefly about the nominees at today’s hearing.
 
Justice Robinson is nominated to the Second Circuit. She currently serves on the Vermont Supreme Court. While in private practice, Justice Robinson did a fair bit of civil rights work. As I said before, so did Judge Michael Park and Judge Steve Menashi, who President Trump nominated to the Second Circuit. Judge Park fought against racial discrimination in higher education, and Judge Menashi fought against religious discrimination in the Department of Education.
 
I supported both of those nominees because I felt confident that their judicial philosophy meant they would rule based on the law, not their personal views. Unfortunately, this administration’s nominees have generally refused to answer questions about their judicial philosophy – at least when asked at a hearing. It’s hard to support a judicial nominee who won’t tell you their approach to deciding cases. It’s also hard to support a nominee for a lifetime appointment if they haven’t thought enough about the job to have a judicial philosophy.
 
Justice Robinson has served as a state court judge for several years, so I hope we can have a productive discussion about her judicial philosophy.
 
I will also note that Justice Robinson’s support comes from Vermont and its legal community.
 
Ms. Sung is the second nominee, and she is nominated for an Oregon seat on the Ninth Circuit. Judge Graber, who currently sits in that seat, is well-respected. She has said that some of her favorite cases involve interpreting statutes because it’s like a puzzle. She likes working out how different parts of a law can fit together. Because of that, she takes an interest in many different areas of law.
 
Ms. Sung, however, has focused intensely on labor law and worked closely with union bosses. That may be why Demand Justice and Chris Kang are excited about her nomination and why Ms. Sung’s strongest supporters seem to be in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. She has also made a number of partisan statements about judicial nominees. Given those comments and her narrow focus on the law, I’m not sure she is a good fit for the Ninth Circuit, which sees a broad array of cases.
 
On the second panel, we have this administration’s nominee to serve as Solicitor General, Ms. Prelogar. She has an exemplary resume. She clerked for two Supreme Court justices, and she served as the Acting Solicitor General for several months before her nomination. She may carry out this administration’s priorities very well. But I am concerned about recent choices made at Department of Justice. I hope she will show a willingness to be a voice of reason there and push back on the partisan decisions that we have seen recently from this administration.
 

Finally, Dr. Gupta has been nominated to serve as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He has served in public health roles in state and local government, and he has extensive experience dealing with the opioid crisis. I hope today’s hearing shows he is a good fit for the role.