# Sonia Sotomayor



IA-Sen: Grassley touts perfect "report card" as senator continues to fumble Trump response

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has received substantial unflattering attention this week, thanks to his weak response to Donald Trump’s racist case against a federal judge. While a steady stream of Republicans condemned Trump’s sentiments, Grassley downplayed the significance of the issue on Tuesday, inspiring this Des Moines Register editorial‘s brilliant kicker: “when it comes to Donald Trump, there are invertebrates that have shown more spine than Sen. Charles Grassley.”

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Grassley likened Trump’s opinion to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s past statements about a “wise Latina.” But he felt compelled to walk back that comparison only hours later amid a wave of criticism on national media websites and blogs.

The latest Trump scandal knocked Grassley’s campaign off the message it has been trying to relay to Iowans over the past week. A new television commercial and multiple social media postings depict Grassley as a senator with a perfect “report card” for attendance, participation, and physical fitness. Like the campaign’s first tv ad this year, this spot offers a rebuttal to “Do Your Job” taunts directed at Grassley over the Senate Judiciary Committee’s refusal to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing. It also employs the “Grassley Works” tag line, which has been long been a hallmark of the senator’s case for re-election. I enclose below the video and transcript.

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New Supreme Court nominee speculation thread

MSNBC’s First Read reported today:

Per NBC’s Pete Williams and Savannah Guthrie, administration officials say at least eight names are on President Obama’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Six are women and two men. The names: U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Merrick Garland of the DC Court of Appeals, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former George Supreme Court Chief Judge Leah Ward Sears, Sidney Thomas of the 9th Circuit, and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. Of these names, people outside the government but familiar with White House thinking say the serious contenders are Kagan, Wood, Garland, Napolitano, and Granholm. Guthrie adds that Obama is likely to meet next week with key senators to discuss the vacancy. Many of the new additions are about interest group appeasement. And note the growing concern in the liberal/progressive blogosphere about Kagan.

One person who doesn’t sound concerned about Kagan is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina:

“I like her,” he said, quickly adding, “and that might hurt her chances.”

Graham, whose support for Justice Sonia Sotomayor last summer was a turning point in her confirmation process, said he liked Kagan’s answers about national security and the president’s broad authority to detain enemy combatants when she was going through her own Senate confirmation.

Both of President Bill Clinton’s Supreme Court nominees had received a private stamp of approval from key Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. My hunch is that Graham’s kind words for Kagan help her chances with President Obama. He loves to position himself as a moderate between the left and the right.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Chris Bowers made the case for Sears here.

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Justice Stevens confirms plan to retire this year

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has confirmed that he will retire this June, as court observers have anticipated for some time. According to the Washington Post,

Aides and Democrats close to the process named three people as likely front-runners for the job: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, whom Obama appointed as the first woman to hold the post, and two appellate court judges, Diane Wood of Chicago and Merrick Garland of Washington.

I’m relieved to know that the Senate will be able to confirm Stevens’ successor while Democrats still have a sizable majority. We are likely to lose 3-8 Senate seats this November.

Whomever Obama appoints will probably get a lecture from Senator Chuck Grassley during confirmation hearings this summer. With any luck the person will turn out not to be “aggressive” and “obnoxious.”

Any comments or predictions about the upcoming Supreme Court nomination are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Chris Bowers makes the case for former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears.

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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama's administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn't have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can't say I wasn't warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year's political events are welcome in this thread.

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Congratulations to Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court today by a vote of 68 to 31. As expected, Iowa’s senators split, with Tom Harkin voting yes and Chuck Grassley voting no.

Nine Republicans voted to confirm Sotomayor: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mel Martinez of Florida, George Voinovich of Ohio, and Kit Bond of Missouri. Bond, Gregg, Martinez and Voinovich have already announced plans to retire in 2010.

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey warned yesterday that the GOP will pay a political price for opposing Sotomayor.

The two independents who caucus with Democrats (Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont) supported Sotomayor, as did all Senate Democrats who were present today (Ted Kennedy was absent). That’s a blow to Republicans, who had hoped that getting the National Rifle Association to make Sotomayor’s confirmation a scorecard issue would frighten a few gun-friendly Democrats into voting no. That would have changed the media narrative into “Democrats and Republicans divided over Sotomayor as she joins the Supreme Court.”

Although Max Baucus of Montana flirted with voting no on Sotomayor, he came around fairly quickly. I liked this comment from pro-gun Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia:

“I’m very disappointed. [NRA seems] to be going beyond their Second Amendment issues, particularly when I think the judge’s positions on those issues are still fairly open,” Warner said. “I trust in her judgment and temperament. I think the NRA at some point has gone beyond its mission, and are perhaps allowing themselves to get hijacked by those who are in the extreme.”

That hijacking occurred long ago.

Share any thoughts about Justice Sotomayor or the Supreme Court in this thread. I want to again express my gratitude to Justice John Paul Stevens for staying healthy all these years and to Justice David Souter for sticking it out long after he wanted to retire.

Now that Republicans have shown that they will largely oppose even a moderate, corporate-friendly judge like Sotomayor, I would like to see Obama nominate a fire-breathing liberal the next time a Supreme Court vacancy comes up.

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