July 12, 2018
Grassley at Markup: Kavanaugh Has Very Distinguished Record of Public Service
Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
At an Executive
July 12, 2018
morning. Today, we are considering a piece of legislation and several
I turn to today’s agenda, I’ll say a few words about the Supreme Court vacancy.
On Monday evening, the President announced his nomination of Judge Brett
Kavanaugh to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United
Kavanaugh has a very distinguished record of public service, serving in the
Executive Branch and as a judge on the D.C. Circuit. He is one of the most
influential judges in the country. Twelve of his opinions have been adopted by
the Supreme Court. That’s a remarkable record.
before the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh was even announced, liberal outside
groups and some of my Democratic colleagues pledged to oppose any and all of
the potential 25 nominees. Instead of being open to evaluating the nominee on
the merits, these interest groups and their allies in the Senate announced a
policy of pre-emptive obstruction. So we knew even before the nomination was
made, these senators were going to oppose whoever it was.
fact that not one of the 25 nominees was even worthy of their consideration
says much more about them than any nomine.
clear that my colleagues have shown their hand. When we hear arguments from the
other side to slow down the process, we know the real reason: blocking Judge
Kavanaugh’s confirmation by any means necessary. In fact, just this week, the
Minority Leader, in the presence of every single one of the Democratic members
of the Judiciary Committee stated “we must defeat Judge Kavanaugh’s
while I’m committed to a full and fair confirmation process, I’ll view any
complaints about the process with a healthy degree of skepticism. After all,
those who will raise such complaints have already seemingly made up their minds
on this nomination. It’s kind of like a jury that has already found a defendant
guilty, even before the defendant has had his day in Court.
address a few of the groundless arguments we’ve heard so far. First, it’s been
said we shouldn’t confirm a Supreme Court nominee during a midterm election
is inconsistent with historical precedent. Two sitting justices—Kagan and
Breyer—were confirmed in midterm election years. Many of their predecessors
were as well. The Biden Rule, by its terms, applies only to presidential
election years. Nominating a Supreme Court justice is one of the President’s
most important duties. The Biden Rule recognizes that the American people
should weigh in on who makes the nomination—the President. Because the
President is not on the ballot, this logic doesn’t apply in midterm election
it’s been said that the Senate shouldn’t consider a nomination while Robert
Mueller’s investigation is ongoing. But this is also inconsistent with history.
And frankly, this argument is silly.
President Clinton, for example, nominated Justice Breyer while he was under
investigation by the Independent Counsel.
fact, the Independent Counsel had the President’s documents under a grand jury
subpoena. President Trump is not in such a precarious situation. By all
accounts, he’s not personally under investigation. And even if he were, what
other constitutional duties do some of my Democratic colleagues demand that the
President give up? I recognize this argument for what it is: a pretense
advanced by those who are already opposed to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
some have said that Judge Kavanaugh doesn’t believe a sitting President may be
criminally investigated or prosecuted. This is false. In fact, it’s the
opposite of what he said. What Judge Kavanaugh wrote in a law review article is
that Congress should pass a law to make the President temporarily
immune from criminal prosecution while he’s in office. This implies he believes
the President may be investigated and prosecuted under current law.
Moreover, a nominee’s academic musings are not the law. Justices follow the
law, including precedent.
strongly urge my colleagues to stop misrepresenting Judge Kavanaugh’s writing
on this issue. I’ve heard my colleagues say that he believes the President is
above the law. But his article states that he “strongly agrees” with the
principle that no one is above the law in our system of government. The
Washington Post calls the minority’s claim an “extreme distortion.” The Post
gave this claim two Pinocchio’s. And I think that is too generous.
met with Judge Kavanaugh earlier this week. I hope all of you have the chance
to do the same. And I urge you to keep an open mind about this highly
accomplished, highly respected nominee.
turning to today’s agenda. We have several nominees on the agenda for the first
today and the minority has requested they be held over. So, the following
nominees will be held over:
Quattlebaum, Fourth Circuit
Richardson, Fourth Circuit
Altman, Southern District of Florida
Arias, District of Puerto Rico
Ruiz, Southern District of Florida
intend to vote on Britt Grant to the 11th Circuit and David Porter
to the 3rd Circuit today. Justice Grant is a well-respected judge
and public servant. Since joining the bench, she has a clear record of being
fair and impartial. In five different cases, she’s ruled for criminal
defendants when she found their sentences did not match the law. In each case,
she ordered the lower court to correct the errors.
of whether it is a criminal defendant or the State of Georgia, every individual
is equal under the law when they come to Justice Grant’s courtroom.
also previously served as Georgia’s Solicitor General and clerked for the DC
Circuit. I have confidence she’ll make an excellent appellate judge, and I look
forward to supporting her nomination.
Mr. Porter’s nomination, I understand that the minority is concerned that he
didn’t receive two positive blue slips from his home state Senators.
consistent with my blue slip policy, and the policy of most of the other
Chairmen before me, I’ll generally continue to hold hearings for Circuit court
nominees who lack two positive blue slips when the White House has adequately
consulted with home-state Senators.
Senator generally doesn’t have the right to block the other 99 of us from
merely considering a circuit court nominee so long as the White House consulted
the case of Mr. Porter’s nomination, the White House reached out to Senator
Casey more than a year before making the nomination and suggested several
potential names. Senator Casey evidently rejected all the suggestions but never
proposed any potential candidates himself. Eventually, the White House needs to
move forward with filling the vacancies, and because they tried to consult with
Senator Casey, we are moving forward with his nomination today.
the agenda today is S.2946, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018.
was proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators
Nelson, Rubio, Whitehouse, Cruz, Blumenthal, Tillis, Coons, Cornyn, and Hatch.
most of you know, I was the lead sponsor of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992, or
“ATA.” For over 25 years, the ATA has helped fight international
terrorism and provide justice to American victims.
then, however, terrorists and those who financially support them have tried to
blow holes in the law and stretch its exceptions beyond what Congress ever
makes three needed clarifications so that American victims of terrorism can
continue to seek justice in our nation’s courts against terrorists and their
the bill clarifies the ATA’s so-called “act of war” exception. It goes
without saying, but Congress never intended that designated terrorist
organizations could dodge liability for attacks that kill or injure Americans
overseas by simply claiming this exception.
some have twisted the exception to get away scot free. The “act of war”
exception should not be a liability shield for designated terrorist
organizations or their supporters. So, this bill makes clear that the exception
doesn’t apply to those designated by the U.S. government as foreign
the bill permits victims of narco-terrorism to satisfy court-awarded ATA
judgments with the assets of foreign drug kingpins. Assets blocked by the
federal government under the Kingpin Designation Act currently are not
available to victims to satisfy their judgments. This bill fixes that.
the bill responds to recent federal court decisions that undermined the ability
of American victims to bring terrorists to justice. The 1992 law was
specifically designed to provide extraterritorial jurisdiction over terrorists
who attack Americans overseas. Last year, I led an amicus brief—with 22
bipartisan Senators—to the Supreme Court in Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation
Organization, reiterating the purpose and scope of the 1992 law.
I was stunned when the Justice Department failed to stand up in that case for
American victims of terrorism. This bill makes crystal clear that defendants
who take advantage of certain benefits from the U.S. government—such as foreign
assistance—will be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction in ATA
cases. No defendant should be able to enjoy privileges under U.S. law,
while simultaneously dodging responsibility for supporting terrorists that
injure or kill Americans.
bill is supported by thousands of veterans and Gold Star families. It’s
supported by groups like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish
Committee, Christians United for Israel, the Endowment for Middle East Truth,
the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, the National Council of
Young Israel, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the
Zionist Organization of America. I have several statements of support that I’d
like to include in the record, without objection.
Committee also received a petition signed by over 50,000 Americans urging the
bill’s swift passage.