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Tag Archives: Chuck Grassley

Grassley: Author of DOJ recess appointment opinion may lose her job

Sen. Chuck Grassley, angered by an opinion issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel finding President Barack Obama’s recent recess appointments legal, took aim at the opinion’s author, suggesting that she won’t be confirmed by the Senate again.

The opinion, authored by Assistant Attorney General Virginia A. Seitz earlier this month, found that Congress was in recess when Obama made four recess appointments despite Congressional Republicans’ efforts to gavel in pro forma sessions over the holiday break to prevent such appointments.

“I gave the President and Ms. Seitz the benefit of the doubt in voting to confirm her nomination,” Grassley said in a Senate floor speech Monday, according to Politico. “However, after reading this misguided and dangerous legal opinion, I’m sorry the Senate confirmed her. It’s likely to be the last confirmation she ever experiences.”

Those comments rankled some OLC attorneys from previous administrations, who said such blackball threats are dangerous.

“OLC lawyers should be free to render their honest opinion and not be threatened with adverse career consequences by either the White House or Congress,” Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during the Bush administration, told Politico.

“The Senator’s name-calling is misplaced,” said Jack Goldsmith, who helmed the OLC during President George W. Bush’s administration.

President Bill Clinton’s chief OLC attorney Walter Dellinger said he was astonished by Grassley’s comments. “I can’t believe that Senator Grassley has actually read Seitz’s thoughtful and carefully reasoned opinion.  And he may not be aware that attorney’s in the administration of President George W. Bush reached the same conclusion that she reached,” Dellinger told Politico.

GOP lawmakers fired up (and ready to sue) over recess appointments

It did not take long for Congressional Republicans to seize on the controversial recess appointments President Barack Obama made last week.

On Friday GOP members of the Senate judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder pressing him to disclose just what role the Department of Justice played in advising the president on the recess appointments.

As has been well reported, Obama appointed Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and three members – Sharon Block, Richard Griffin and Terence F. Flynn – to the NLRB. The Senate had previously filibustered Cordray’s nomination and stalled the NLRB nominees, allowing the Board to fall below its statutory quorum the day before Obama made the recess appointments.

Obama made the move despite efforts by lawmakers to prevent Congress from recessing by repeatedly gaveling in pro forma sessions over the holiday break.

The lawmakers’ letter stated that the appointments went against opinions issued by past attorneys general, the U.S. Supreme Court and other authorities that “clearly indicate the view that a congressional recess must be longer than three days – and perhaps at least as long as ten — in order for a recess appointment to be constitutional.  These various authorities have reached this conclusion for over 90 years and have become the stated position of the Executive Branch, including multiple representations before the Supreme Court, regarding the required length of time for a recess in order for the President to make a recess appointment.”

Meanwhile, last week Rep. Bill Johnson threatened a lawsuit over the matter.

“Dodd-Frank made it very clear that to set it up it must have Senate approval,” Johnson told Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto (see it here via The Hill). “And the president cannot just arbitrarily change the rules or decide on his own the Senate’s definition of when it’s in session and when it’s not in session.”

Lawmakers want Supreme Court health care arguments televised

Lawmakers from both parties are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow video coverage of oral arguments in the cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care overhaul next spring.

Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts and the associate justices urging them to make an exception to the rule barring cameras in the courtroom for the health care case.

“The decision in this case has the potential to reach every American,” Grassley said in the letter.  “The law is massive in size and scope.  The effect of the law, and the Court’s decision, will reverberate throughout the American economy. …A minimal number of cameras in the courtroom, which could be placed to be barely noticeable to all participants, would provide live coverage of what may be one of the most historic and important arguments of our time.  Letting the world watch would bolster public confidence in our judicial system and in the decisions of the Court.”

Yesterday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., echoed Grassley’s call.

“When the Affordable Care Act is placed before the highest court in our country, all Americans will have a stake in the debate; therefore, all Americans should have access to it,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Openness and transparency are essential to the success of our democracy, and in this historic debate, we must ensure the ability of our citizens to take part.”

Earlier this year Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that would give chief judges in federal trial and appellate courts the right to decide whether cameras would be allowed in court proceedings. The committee advanced the bill in April.