Grassley’s excuses are purely political

Des Moines – Opinion

March 2, 2016

Iowans are known for being hard workers, and we appreciate that quality in our elected officials. We wake up every day, ready to do our part, and get the job done. We are also politically astute, understand the U.S. Constitution, and know when an elected official is more eager to find excuses than create solutions. Unfortunately, Sen. Chuck Grassley is refusing to do his job as described in Article 2 of the Constitution, giving “advice and consent” on the president’s upcoming nomination to the Supreme Court.

Grassley is threatening to use his powerful post as chairman of the Judiciary Committee to block a hearing on any nominee, regardless of how well qualified he or she is. His recent column and public statements regarding the vacancy on the Supreme Court are troubling and harmful to our courts. Moreover, this isn’t the Chuck Grassley we thought we knew.

Sen. Grassley first tells us we should delay the nomination because it’s an election year, and the people need to have their say at the ballot. But this represents either a fundamental misunderstanding or deliberate misinterpretation of our Constitution. The president has the authority to appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court, and the Senate has the responsibility to give advice and consent. Those responsibilities do not disappear during an election year. They are designed to maintain a well functioning court, which requires judges and justices. No vacancy such as this has ever stretched over two Supreme Court terms, and it’s clear our country needs a functioning court. We can’t afford to wait.

Sen. Grassley also argues that he should deny any nominee even a hearing because Americans voted a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate during the 2014 elections. Each and every senator, regardless of party, was elected to do the job of a senator. No one was elected to bring our judicial system to a screeching halt. Sen. Grassley is duty bound by the Constitution, first and foremost, which compels him to act.

Sen. Grassley also cited three statements from the past, as far back as 1992, from Democrats whose arguments fit his current obstructionist position. The senator uses those statements to further justify blocking any nomination. Having served in elected office in both major political parties, we know better than most that you can find politicians on multiple sides of an issue. It is rarer to find a politician who refuses to let those statements serve as an excuse, and instead roll his or her sleeves up and get to work. That is the Chuck Grassley we thought we knew.

President Barack Obama has more than 300 days left in office. The last dozen Supreme Court justices were each nominated and confirmed in less than 100 days. Any nominee for the Supreme Court should be given serious consideration, and a hearing in the Judiciary Committee (which Sen. Grassley has the power to schedule) without delay.

Any decision to delay this process is a purely partisan political decision, and one that will do lasting damage to our courts. Whenever politics are injected into the courts, public confidence in this branch of government deteriorates. Judges serve the Constitution and the law, not political parties, special interest groups or donors. Judges are not politicians, and should not be treated as such.

Sen. Grassley has a career defining opportunity to break this standoff and use his leadership position to move the process forward. Sen. Grassley has the career-defining opportunity to strengthen our confidence in the courts and restore our confidence in our government. We urge him to do so.

Joy Corning, a Republican, and Sally Pederson, a Democrat, have both served as lieutenant governor of Iowa, and now work together as co-chairs of Justice Not Politics. For more information:


Justice Not Politics calls on Senator Grassley to hold hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice

DES MOINES – Today, the Justice Not Politics Coalition, Iowa’s voice for fair courts since 2010, announced that it would be airing a new ad in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids media markets.

The advertisement calls on Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice. The 30-second ad features video of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor disagreeing with those who are advocating to wait until the next president is in office to appoint a new Justice. “I think we need somebody there, now, to do the job, and let’s get on with it,” former Justice O’Connor says.

Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. O’Connor served from her appointment in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan until her retirement in 2006.

Statement from Justice Not Politics

“Iowans overwhelmingly support moving forward, following the Constitution, and holding hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice without delay. Iowans are asking Senator Grassley to respect and lead that process as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

– Joy Corning (former Iowa Lt. Governor, Republican) and Sally Pederson (former Iowa Lt. Governor, Democrat), Justice Not Politics co-chairs.


See more information about Justice Not Politics, and watch the ad, at

Marking 5 Years as Iowa’s Voice for Fair Courts

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate the Justice Not Politics Coalition’s 5-year anniversary as Iowa’s voice for Fair Courts. A special thanks to Roxanne Conlin for hosting the event at her home, our keynote speaker JoDee Winterhof of the Human Rights Campaign, and a thank you to all of our event sponsors. Iowa’s fair courts movement has achieved monumental progress over these last 5 years, but we have a lot more work to do!



Iowa Supreme Court Schedules Special Evening Session in Des Moines

Des Moines

February 5, 2016

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case The Estate of Paul Dedrick Gray, et al. v. Daniel J. Baldi, et al. during a special evening session in Des Moines Tuesday, February 16, at 7:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Courtroom on the fourth floor of the Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue.

The evening session is open to the public and provides an opportunity for Iowa residents, who may not be able to attend the court’s regular morning and afternoon sessions, to watch the court conduct oral arguments.

The Estate of Paul Dedrick Gray, et al. v. Daniel J. Baldi, et al.

Plaintiffs appeal from summary judgment dismissing their petition alleging medical malpractice due to defendant physician’s excessive or conflicting prescribing of pain medications, resulting in the wrongful death of Paul Dedrick Gray. Plaintiffs, Gray’s wife and minor child, contend the district court erred by finding their claims were barred by Iowa’s two-year statute of limitations, and that the court erred in ruling that an unborn child could not recover for loss of parental consortium under the limitations of actions chapter of the Iowa Code. Gray died in May 2010 when his wife was pregnant with their child, born six months after his death.

Attorneys’ briefs for the case and a guide to oral arguments are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at:

Proceedings will be streamed live from the Iowa Judicial Branch website at:

A public reception with the supreme court justices will follow the oral arguments on the second floor of the Judicial Branch Building. The reception is sponsored by the Polk County Bar Association.

For more information, visit the Iowa Supreme Court page on the Judicial Branch website at:


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Iowa Women, Planned Parenthood Score Unanimous Victory on Telemed

Telemed access will continue in Iowa, thanks to today’s unanimous ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. At issue was whether doctors could communicate over video to women mostly living in more rural parts of the state with less access to health clinics, and issue them abortion pills via remote dispensing.

Terry Branstad’s appointed state regulators had ruled back in 2013 that the practice should end. A district judge agreed, but the ruling was put on hold until the Iowa Supreme Court could weigh in. Many progressive organizations and women’s health groups criticized the original board’s ruling as politically motivated.

“Today’s ruling is the latest example highlighting Iowa’s proud tradition of our courts being free from politics,” said Connie Ryan Terrell in a statement, the chair of Justice Not Politics. “The court reaffirmed its role as our state’s independent arbiter of justice. Some will attack the justices and mislead the public about the court’s decision, as Iowans have witnessed in the past. However, a fair and impartial judiciary is about more than any one ruling. Iowans have learned by experience we must preserve the integrity of the courts and ensure the rights of all citizens. Iowans will always stand up for a judicial process that is free from politics, defending the courts from extremists who want to attack our justices and judges to benefit their own narrow agenda.”

“I applaud today’s decision by the Iowa Supreme Court in siding with women’s health care over the needless partisanship of Governor Branstad,” said Andy McGuire in a statement put out by the IDP. “All Iowa women, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status, should have access to treatments and services that are vital to their well-being. Today’s decision empowers women with the resources and information needed to take charge of their own health care decisions. That’s a major victory for Iowa women, their families and our state.”

Bob Vander Platt’s Family Leader organization, however, disagreed, characterizing the healthcare option access as putting “women at risk.”

“Planned Parenthood and other abortionists must be held to basic medical standards of care, and little is more basic than an in-person examination by a physician before a procedure that poses serious health risks,” reads part of the Family Leader’s statement. “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood should not be allowed to jeopardize women’s lives by disregarding established medical protocols.”

by Pat Rynard
Posted 6/19/15