Sen. Grassley criticizes 9th Circuit judges 'going to Maui'

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Grassley said he's focused on the conference because of the publicity surrounding "going to Maui," cuts to the judicial budget and advances in virtual conference technology.

"In the social networking environment we're in now, it ought to be very easy to do without traveling to expensive places like Maui," said Grassley on CNN's "Starting Point."

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Grassley, along with Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), wrote to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski last week to warn that the Hawaii meeting does not appear to fit with the 9th Circuit's own opinion that the federal budget is tight.

Individuals will be required to pay for recreational activities during the conference and taxpayer dollars will not be used, according to a spokesman from the 9th Circuit, reported CNN.

Pressed on whether he was critical of the 9th Circuit because it's viewed as having a liberal bent, Grassley said, "[A] lot of us in Congress think it ought to be broken up into two circuits because it's too big and, like you [Soledad O'Brien] say, probably too liberal for the rest of the region."

However, he agreed that the ideology of the court was "neither here nor there," in regards to the expense of the judicial conference.

"I think if you look at some of the things that are going on at the meeting, you'd really question whether or not this sort of large meeting, costing maybe $1 million, is really necessary, considering some of the things that are on the agenda," he said.

The Iowa senator said training on "how to use an iPad" is one example on the conference agenda that should be given further scrutiny.

He also argued that too much time will be spent on recreation, regardless of whether or not those activities are paid for by the individuals attending the meeting.

CNN contributor Roland Martin pushed back against Grassley, arguing that Hawaii, which is part of the 9th Circuit, should be allowed to hold conferences like any other state.

"If they had this conference in Iowa would you be complaining? Aren't we sitting here being critical of an American state? Don't they have the right to have conferences, judicial conferences in states like Hawaii? This is not Jamaica or Aruba, this is the United States of America," Martin said.

Grassley pointed out that the conference is taking place in the wake of the General Services Administration's (GSA) notorious $800,000 conference scandal that led several GSA officials to resign. He also reiterated that in a time of fiscal restraint, the budget of the judicial branch is also under strain.

"I think it's legitimate to say that judges have to meet sometimes in conference, but I think that you've also got to look at the cost of it as well," he added.