Chairman Charles Grassley
Senate Judiciary Committee
SH-135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Grassley:
It’s been a while since our spirited meeting in your office after you came back from a meeting where Senators Schumer and Kerry were defending the “carried interest” tax escape and you amusingly asked, “Why are these Democrats defending these tax breaks?”
I’m writing you to request that you reinstate a fuller schedule of witnesses for the forthcoming confirmation hearings on the President’s nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Since the Bork and Thomas Judiciary Committee hearings, the list of witnesses has been sharply restricted. Witnesses have been limited to members of Congress, the Administration, carefully selected panels of scholars, and not much else, so long as no scandals or misbehavior were on the table. As a result, leaders of major citizen groups, such as ours, or leaders of constituencies that are often ignored as marginal, such as family farmers worried about monopolistic practices coming at them from buying and selling ends of their markets, are shut out.
For example, I asked the Committee Democrats to testify critically on the nominations of Judge Roberts and Judge Alito and did not even receive the courtesy of a reply. Others have had similar experiences. One result is that many areas of the law are almost never explored. The record of these confirmation hearings is thin indeed and no one knows this better than the nominees whose formulaic training for the hearings is met with few surprises or challenges.
Should you wish to discuss the above matters more extensively to help you ensure a first class standard for the rigorous exercise of the advise and consent authority reposited in the U.S. Senate by the Constitution, representatives from some advocacy groups would be pleased to meet with you at your office.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a top notch performance by the Senate Judiciary Committee as a precedent for future such committee deliberations. After all, what the Senate is preparing to do once again is to give electoral legitimacy to a supreme judicial position that is both for life and fundamentally dictatorial (the unchallenged last word, except by Constitutional amendment) in nature.
I welcome your response.
PO Box 19367
Washington, DC 20036
P.S. You may be aware that our Congress Project in the early seventies produced, among several volumes, a book on the history of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. I will send you a copy. Your originating role and work to protect the 1986 False Claims Act is historic.