Prepared Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
At an Executive Business Meeting
Thursday, December 8, 2022
We can have voice votes on the executive nominees on the agenda today. We’d like to hold the bill over since it is on the agenda for the first time.
As for the judicial nominees, I’ll be supporting Judge Ballou and Judge Lawless.
I want to briefly explain my decision to oppose Judge Benjamin’s nomination. For circuit court nominees, I’ll support nominees if they’re committed to following the Constitution and laws as written.
Unfortunately, Judge Benjamin doesn’t have many decisions available that address constitutional law or other complex legal issues.
That makes it hard to judge her judicial philosophy.
The decisions she has made raise serious concerns. She had decisions in which she granted bond that raised public safety concerns. In one, she said it was because of the Speedy Trial Clause. But at her hearing, she didn’t mention the most important factor in that analysis, whether the defendant was prejudiced by delay.
Her decision to give a sentence below the mandatory minimum was also concerning. The legislature went to great lengths to say a minimum sentence was required and no credit could reduce a sentence below the minimum.
I understand that some people don’t think it’s relevant to talk about judicial philosophy.
Almost everyone used to agree that it’s “fair to inquire into a nominee’s judicial philosophy.” Some on the other side even acknowledged that judicial philosophy plays a “central role” in nominations hearings.
Some tried to convince Americans that living constitutionalism really wasn’t that bad. But Americans weren’t buying it.
It looks like this administration decided on a different plan. Most nominees won’t explain their philosophies.
I understand some people disagree with originalism. But, as Justice Scalia used to say, it takes a theory to beat a theory.
When he referred to a theory, I’m confident he didn’t mean the conspiracy theories offered by dark money groups on the left that there’s a shadowy conservative cabal telling conservative judges how to rule.
Because Judge Benjamin hasn’t convinced me that she’s committed to enforcing the Constitution and laws as written, I’ll be voting no on her nomination.
I also wanted to explain my opposition to Judge Joun, a nominee for the district court in Massachusetts. He opposed the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities program, which checks fingerprints from people arrested by state and local police with immigration records.
That’s a commonsense program, and his explanation for why he opposed it wasn’t satisfactory.
I’d like to take this opportunity to mention some important bipartisan work that I believe we can accomplish before this Congress ends. I know many of my colleagues agree with me that one of the most significant things we do in this committee is protecting the victims of terrible crimes.
Senators Feinstein, Cornyn, Klobuchar, and I are working to reauthorize the Trafficking Victim Protection Act to provide services to victims of human trafficking. Senator Ossoff and I are working to modernize federal offenses that protect children from sex abuse.
Many members of this committee have given valuable feedback on both, and I believe these bills can soon move to the floor. I thank my colleagues for your partnership.