Grassley's Got To Go
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Politics and Activism

Grassley's Got To Go

Senator Grassley's stance on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland shows us it's time for a new senator.

Grassley's Got To Go

It was big news when Supreme Court Justice Scalia died this past February. The news became even bigger when the movers and shakers of the Republican Party announced that they would block any attempt of President Obama to fill the vacancy left by Scalia. This issue has faded into the background of political talk, but it;s still as pressing and relevant today as it was then. It should effect our current actions, as well as our actions in the voting booths come November, and not only the presidential race, but in the race for the seat of incumbent Senator Chuck Grassley.

The Supreme Court justices can have an enormous impact on the whole country. This was seen when the court found segregation to be unconstitutional or, more recently, when the Court found prohibiting someone to marry another of the same sex to be a violation of constitutional rights. Since the Court often decides controversial issues, presidents try to appoint justices that would support the kind of laws that their party favors. This has caused the Court to be divided between so-called liberal and conservative justices.

Prior to Scalia’s death, the conservative-to-liberal ratio was 5-4. He was one of the most reliably conservative justices on the Court and with his loss, the Court is deadlocked at 4-4. This is already having an impact on the cases the Court decided this year, as laid out in this New York Times article. Republicans are fearful that if President Obama is allowed to appoint another justice, the Supreme Court will have a liberal majority and will allow liberals to steamroll their agenda. To avoid this, Republicans are trying to prevent any and all proceedings that would lead to a Supreme Court Justice’s appointment. This includes refusing to hold any hearings for Merrick Garland, the nominee that Obama put forth back in March. A notable figure in obstructing these proceedings is Iowan Senator Grassley, the chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

Grassley's views regarding the relationship between politics and the Supreme Court have a complicated history. While the decisions of the Supreme Court seem to be politically charged, this isn't how things have to or were meant to be. Grassley has recognized that keeping the courts from acting like mere extensions of the political parties is necessary for the stability of the system.

However, if you were to listen to Grassley, you might become very confused about how he thinks the modern Court is doing, or even what a “non-political” Court would look like. Back in 2006, he was a strong supporter of the process that was used to nominate and confirm Justice Alito, and argued that politics had nothing to do with Alito’s appointment. During the fight for Alito’s confirmation, Grassley said, “The Supreme Court does not have seats reserved for one philosophy or another. That kind of reasoning is completely antithetical to the proper role of the judiciary in our system of government.”

A decade later, Grassley's views have done a complete 180. Not only has the nomination process become horribly corrupted by politics, but there's a certain philosophy that should be preferred in justices: the ideologies of those appointed by Republicans. According to Grassley, “Justices appointed by Republicans are generally committed to following the law,” where their Democrat-appointed peers are not. According to Grassley, a non-political Court would be one where all of the justices were appointed by Republicans. Does this make sense to anyone? To divide justices up into their partisan alliances seems to be the the most basic definition of politicizing the Court.

What I find to be the most frustrating point of hypocrisy in this whole situation is the fact Republicans are defending their actions with two claims that they're actually working in opposition of: They claim they're protecting the Constitution and are making sure the voice of the American people is heard. The Constitution reads “[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint… Judges of the Supreme Court.” It is Obama’s constitutional obligation to nominate someone to be Justice, and it is the Senate’s obligation to advise and confirm nominations. If the Republican Party doesn’t like Merrick Garland, that's fine! The Republican-controlled Senate can go through the process and hold a vote and deny Garland the position. Instead, Grassley is halting the process before it can meaningfully begin. It is he who is silencing the voices of the American people and refusing to let their democratically elected Senators decide whether to confirm or deny Garland as a Supreme Court Justice.

The whole basis upon which Republican leaders are rationalizing denying Garland hearings is that President Obama is in the last year of his term, so we should wait for the new president. They have tried to support this by using an argument from precedent which John Oliver hilariously obliterated in his show. The default position now seems to be that they're preventing the process so that the nominee will reflect the will of the people. But the people have already spoken. They spoke in 2012 when they elected Obama to serve the term of 2009 to 2017. The President is just doing the job that is laid out to him in the Constitution. It's time that Chuck Grassley and the Senate Republicans did theirs.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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