Grassley: Barron ‘simply doesn’t belong on the bench’

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that President Obama’s judicial nominee for the First District Court of Appeals “simply doesn’t belong on the bench.”

Grassley, who serves as ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Harvard professor David Barron is too liberal and would politicize the court.

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“His record reveals a nominee who simply doesn’t belong on the bench,” Grassley said on the Senate floor. “It’s a record of legal reasoning and policy positions that are far outside the mainstream of legal thought. … It has no place on a federal appeals court.”

Grassley said some of Barron’s writings show he “views the judiciary as a political branch of our government.”

“Judges are suppose to judge and not have political vision because they don’t run for office,” Grassley said. “So is this the type of person we want on the bench?”

Barron’s nomination has become controversial because he drafted legal memos justifying the administration’s killing of U.S. citizens in Yemen using drone strikes.

Lawmakers have demanded that the redacted memos be made available to all senators before the vote. Grassley said that hasn’t happened and that the administration is trying to hide how many memos even exist.

“Why does this administration think any senator would vote for this nominee without reviewing his important work?” Grassley said. “Are my colleagues willing to vote for this nominee without reading all of these memos?”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has threatened to filibuster Barron’s nomination but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the nominee last week, meaning Paul can’t stop the vote that will require only a simple majority to end debate. If cloture is invoked, after eight hours of debate the Senate will vote on final confirmation under Senate rules. 

Paul would need more than five Democrats to vote against advancing Barron’s nomination. Last week, the administration held a meeting with Senate Democrats to reassure them and shore-up support.

The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to end debate on Barron's nomination. Grassley urged his colleagues to vote no.

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