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Chuck Grassley is the point man in our judiciary remake

Chuck Grassley is the point man in our judiciary remake
© Anna Moneymaker

When future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed later this month, the unsung hero of the battle will be Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Iowa). Grassley, who is spearheading one of the most profound changes to the federal judiciary in modern history, had already played a central role in confirming a record number of circuit court judges and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Following Kavanaugh’s nomination, Grassley smoothly navigated through choppy political waters, running the hearings with aplomb and applying just the right touch for the brilliant, polished Kavanaugh to shine at his brightest.

This saga began two years ago, with the unfortunate and sudden death of iconic conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. In the face of enormous pressure, Chairman Grassley resisted demands for hearings for President Obama’s classy, well-qualified, Supreme Court nominee Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDebate over term limits for Supreme Court gains new life Roberts’ rebuke of Trump rings hollow, given justices’ conduct Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences MORE.

Surrendering Scalia’s Supreme Court seat to Garland risked changing the philosophical balance of the Court for decades. Fast forward to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoaquín Castro: Trump would be 'in court right now' if he weren't the president or 'privileged' Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Comey reveals new details on Russia probe during House testimony MORE’s upset victory. Suddenly, Grassley’s gamble yielded a huge payoff in the elevation of Scalia-esque Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy’s June retirement announcement created yet another opportunity for Senator Grassley to step up to the plate. Early on, Senate Democrats vowed to block any nomination. When confronted with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, an accomplished and well-regarded senior jurist with a top-flight pedigree, Democrats were at a loss. Republicans’ numeric edge in the Senate rendered their early threats mostly bluster. However, for the next two months they attempted to delay, obstruct, and undermine this respected federal judge.

Senate Democrats’ already possessed all publicly released materials, Kavanaugh’s 300+ judicial opinions, law review articles and speeches. However, in an unparalleled attempt at delay, they unreasonably requested millions of pages of privileged and irrelevant presidential documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as a White House administrator, including six years of emails with hundreds of White House staffers. Throughout this battle, Chairman Grassley and his staff outmaneuvered Democrats at each step, diligently producing 483,000 documents for review, the largest number ever for a Supreme Court nominee and more than the five previous nominees combined.

During Judiciary Committee deliberations about Justices Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch, the Committee accepted protected documents for confidential review. These “Committee Confidential” materials were ineligible for immediate public disclosure under the Presidential Records Act because they potentially contained sensitive data like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and banking information.  

Following past precedent and without the cooperation of Ranking Democrat Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing Senators introduce resolution saying Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi slaying MORE (D-Calif.), Chairman Grassley agreed to receive Committee Confidential records. In the name of transparency and with extraordinary and unprecedented magnanimity, Grassley provided access to all Senators, not just those on the Committee. Given that no Democratic Senator saw fit to read ObamaCare’s 960 pages before destroying the individual health insurance market, it is unsurprising that not a single non-Committee Democratic Senator took Grassley up on his generous offer.

Chairman Grassley extended his hand to work with any Senator who wanted to use Committee Confidential documents to question Judge Kavanaugh during the hearing. Only a single Democrat requested materials. Grassley’s staff promptly made them available to her.  

All told, Grassley’s team logged over 5,000 hours on document review and Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing preparation. The Senator himself was at the Capitol on Labor Day, working over 12 hours preparing for the hearing that would take place fifty-seven days after Kavanaugh’s appointment, a week longer than those of Justices Gorsuch, Kagan and Sotomayor.

The grandfatherly Chairman Grassley was the perfect impresario for what turned out to be a Democratic Party spectacle. Hourly arrests of at least 227 Democrat-allied left-wing agitators, including avowed socialist and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour, formed the backdrop for Committee Democrats’ “resistance.” Unwilling to take the risk of a full-fledged walkout, Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerPush to pay congressional interns an hour gains traction with progressives House approves two-week spending measure to avert shutdown Manchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives MORE (D-N.Y.) and Democrats opted for a strategy of “maximum disruption.”

Calmly, steadily, with a dogged fidelity to preservation of free speech, Grassley gave Democrats their rope. As their partners in the audience rudely and noisily disrupted the proceedings, Senators exhausted themselves and the American people with their persistent haranguing of Judge Kavanaugh, hurling accusations and badgering him as if he were a defendant in a criminal trial.

Whether Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders to Colbert: 'You will be my vice presidential candidate!' Sanders: Trump said midterms were about him, and he lost Boston Globe pans Warren as ‘divisive figure’ ahead of potential 2020 run MORE’s falsely proclaimed Spartacus moment — Grassley and his team worked until 4AM that day to release the documents Booker claimed were confidential Democrats’ false and misleading accusations about withheld records, phony insinuations about Roe v. Wade or deliberate misrepresentations of Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions and other writings, Chairman Grassley, unruffled, let Democrats put their pettiness, meanness, and foolishness on display for 300 million Americans.

At just the right moments he intervened to deflate misleading lines of questioning, correct fallacious assertions, and hold Committee members to account, solidifying Judge Kavanaugh’s spectacular performance.

Chairman Grassley has led an extremely fair and transparent process. President Trump’s outstanding judicial legacy, the indelible mark he is leaving on the federal courts including the confirmation of soon to be Justice Brett Kavanaugh, could not occur without the groundwork, persistence, and heroics of Senator Charles GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE.

Dr. Roger Klein M.D. J.D.M, is a molecular pathologist and attorney in Cleveland. He is a member of the Regulatory Transparency Project’s FDA and Health Working Group. He is a former advisor to the FDA and HHS. Dr. Klein graduated from Yale Law School and completed his postgraduate medical training at Yale Medical School.