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Charles Grassley

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, meets with the Journal's editorial board on Aug. 25, 2010.

Bruce Braley's well-publicized, much-dissected warning to lawyers at a January fund-raiser in Texas about Charles Grassley and chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee will, it appears, become reality.

Last weekend, Grassley told Iowa news outlets he chose Judiciary from among three committees (Judiciary, Finance and Budget) for which he was positioned, through seniority, to become chairman. Committee assignments, including chairs, will be made official sometime this month.

If, as expected, six-term incumbent Grassley gets the position as a result of the fact Republicans seized majority control of the Senate in last week's mid-term elections, he will become the first chair of the Judiciary Committee who was not a lawyer.

After more than three decades of service on the Judiciary Committee, Grassley is, without question, qualified to lead the panel. As an informed, reasoned lawmaker whose work ethic within the Senate ranks second to no one else's, Grassley is respected and trusted among Republicans and Democrats both within and outside Washington.

Expect a high profile for Grassley over the next two years as the Judiciary Committee deliberates a broad spectrum of issues involving myriad federal agencies. The committee's responsibilities include federal judicial nominations, border security and immigration, and the Department of Justice. More than likely, one of the first tasks before the committee next year will be holding confirmation hearings on President Obama's choice to replace Eric Holder as attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

"We'll be looking at everything from legislation that enhances the economy and protects consumers, reduces regulatory burdens on businesses and curbs abuses to our civil justice system, shields kids from drugs and child predators, protects taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse, focuses on securing the border and improves legal immigration opportunities and adapts our criminal laws to rapidly advancing technology," Grassley said in a statement to the Des Moines Register.

He emphasizes the Judiciary Committee's oversight role.

"Oversight is too often overlooked as Congress focuses on new legislation," Grassley told the Register. "So, anybody who knows my efforts in this area will understand that the Judiciary Committee's work will reflect that sentiment. My goal is to promote transparency and accountability and restore the committee's role as a true check on the massive and powerful federal bureaucracy."

In our view, the Senate couldn't find a better leader for this powerful panel at this important time in our history than this, yes, farmer from Iowa.

In fact, although we mean no disrespect to men and women of the legal profession, we believe Congress might benefit from having a few more committed, common-sense farmers like Grassley and a few less lawyers within its ranks.


Opinion editor

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