Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who is expected to become the Senate Judiciary Committee’s lead Republican next year, explained yesterday that his vote against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan signals his desire to engage in even more obstruction of President Obama’s nominees:
He also said he would maintain a more partisan profile toward judicial nominees as the Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee if he is re-elected in November. . . .
There has been pressure from voters to step back from bipartisanship, he said.
“Then the people at the grass roots of America see that and wonder how come Republicans are going to do it the way it’s always been done for 225 years but the Democrats aren’t,” Grassley said.
To a certain extent, it’s a good thing that Grassley is being so honest about his intentions. Last year, Grassley pretended to negotiate with Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) for months over the Affordable Care Act, even though Grassley was only doing so to delay the bill. Hopefully, his admission that he plans to play a highly partisan role on the Judicary Committee will keep other senators from engaging in sham negotiations with Grassley in the future.
But Grassley is not telling the truth when he claims that Democrats engaged in unusual opposition to President Bush’s nominees — or that GOP obstructionism is anything new. Indeed, during the Clinton and Bush II Administrations, GOP senators repeatedly manipulated the Senate rules to ensure that only right-wing judges could be confirmed. The late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) went so far as to block every single Clinton nominee from North Carolina.
Moreover, it’s not exactly clear how Grassley could be more obstructionist than he and his right-wing colleagues are already being. Because the Senate rules require the Majority Leader to spend limited floor time to confirm a nominee if just one senator threatens to filibuster, Republicans have objected to nearly all of Obama’s nominees in an effort to run out the Senate’s clock. None of these filibusters are rooted in serious objections to the nominees, as evidenced by the fact that many of Obama’s judges were confirmed unanimously after the filibuster against them was broken.
In other words, Grassley’s announcement can be summed up in nine words: “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” At least Grassley’s decided to be honest about the fact that he doesn’t negotiate in good faith.