WATERLOO — Three members of Americans for Democratic Action Iowa delivered a message to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley's Waterloo office Monday, asking the Republican to oppose Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
ADA Iowa, a member of the Why Courts Matter coalition, presented a petition with more than 1,500 signatures asking Grassley and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, to oppose Gorsuch over his “record of siding with big money.”
“We feel it’s very important to have someone who is going to be very independent of the administration,” ADA Iowa Field Organizer Chris Schwartz told Grassley’s staff. “At this point, there’s no reason to believe that Neil Gorsuch is going to be that independent voice we need right now.”
Grassley is chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which began hearings on the Gorsuch nomination Monday. Grassley addressed concerns about judicial independence in his opening comments.
“In recent months, I’ve heard that ‘now more than ever’ we need a justice who is independent and who respects the separation of powers,” the Iowa Republican said. “I don’t question the sincerity of those concerns, but some of us have been alarmed by executive overreach and the threat it poses to the separation of powers for quite some time now.”
He added Gorsuch’s grasp on the separation of powers “enlivens his body of work.”
Schwartz, however, outlined several issues on which those who signed the petition think Gorsuch would be likely to rule against “everyday Iowans.” Schwartz pointed to how Gorsuch would rule on the flow of money into elections due to the court's Citizens United decision.
He also cited issues like the environment, women’s reproductive health, immigration and whether Gorsuch would be independent of Republican President Donald Trump’s administration as concerns continue on his ties to Russia.
Neither Grassley nor Ernst have said they will vote to confirm Gorsuch, but both released statements praising the judge as “eminently qualified.”
Schwartz noted a hearing was denied former Democratic President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland. The vacancy was prompted by the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Merrick Garland was definitely a consensus candidate. He was a moderate by every measure,” said Schwarz. “I understood why it was smart for the country to have someone who is more of a consensus candidate, and that just isn’t true of Justice Gorsuch. He has a very, very conservative record.”
Supporters are still hoping to add to the 1,657 signatures on the petition at www.changeiowa.org/petitions/oppose-corporate-judge-gorsuch.
Schwartz said other efforts also would continue.
“One single action is never enough to change anything, but the cumulative (effort) can help change the dialogue,” Schwartz said.