DES MOINES — Religious conservatives dedicated to ending abortion gave U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley a standing ovation Friday for his role as the Republican point man in navigating Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through a confirmation process the senator described as “a partisan blitzkrieg.”
Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told about 700 people attending the seventh annual Family Leader summit that the GOP-led effort to confirm 68 federal judges — including 26 circuit judges and one U.S. Supreme Court justice so far — “will reshape the federal judiciary for a generation.”
The Judiciary Committee is slated to hold a vote next week on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to set a full Senate vote for the final week of September.
“It’s quite obvious that I feel that Judge Kavanaugh deserves to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate,” the Iowa senior senator noted.
Grassley told the gathering Kavanaugh is “eminently qualified for the job” despite facing a barrage of complaints from Democrats that the process is being rushed and that more information is needed about an alleged episode of sexual misconduct involving Kavanaugh when he was in high school.
“I’m sorry to say that most of the attention at those four days of hearings weren’t looking at his extreme and impeccable qualifications, but rather at other things that detract from those qualifications,” Grassley said. “The hearing was a partisan blitzkrieg, but his testimony and demeanor reflected integrity and fidelity to the rule of law.”
Grassley praised President Donald Trump for laying out the type of people he would nominate to the Supreme Court when he was a candidate in 2016 and then delivering on what he promised with Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed to the court last year.
“The people knew by voting for President Trump what kind of justice they would get and they’re getting him. Most presidents run on a platform but don’t stand on it. This president ran on a platform and he’s standing on that platform,” Grassley said, drawing applause.
During his remarks, the senator said that “America is still headed in the right direction — not always everything satisfactory to every one of us, but still setting the standard for the rest of the world and particularly when we live by that standard.”
Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, later led the group in a prayer for Grassley, saying the senator “withstood withering wrong criticism” in his role as Judiciary Committee chairman.
Grassley and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds were the only elected officials invited to speak at the summit, whose theme was principle over politics.
During the event, Family Leader head Bob Vander Plaats announced his organization’s political action committee and the Susan B. Anthony List, a national organization focused on electing leaders opposed to abortion rights, each planned to make a “six-digit investment” in targeted efforts to assist Reynold’s gubernatorial campaign.
“This country hungers and thirsts for a spiritual revival and what we’re seeing is a remnant that is starting to rise up. You see it here today,” he said in his remarks.
Asked about comments made earlier this year by Tony Perkins, leader of the conservative Family Research Council, that the evangelical community has given Trump a “mulligan” when it comes to his personal behavior while praising the president’s socially conservative policies, Vander Plaats said he viewed that in the context that sinners receive grace if they repent their transgressions.
“I call out President Trump when he goes outside of the boundaries or the borders and I try to cheer him on when he’s doing the right thing. You can do both,” Vander Plaats said.