It’s not always easy these days to tell which party controls the Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s never a problem when the Democrats have a majority in the Senate. In this circumstance, Senator Patrick Leahy leaves no room for doubt, holding hearings to push liberal causes and, if there’s Republican administration, to harass it to the maximum extent possible.
With Republicans in the majority and Charles Grassley chairing the committee, it’s a different story. This is clear from the fact that leniency for drug dealer legislation, a pet Obama project, sailed through the committee, with conservatives like Sen. Sessions frozen out in a manner reminiscent of the days when Democrats controlled the Senate.
The problem is also clear from a list of the hearings the committee has held this year.
Earlier this month, it held a hearing on the state of competition in the beer industry. Don’t get me wrong, beer is important.
But why hasn’t the committee held a hearing on Planned Parenthood? And what about the state of free speech on American campuses or of religious freedom for American Christians? Why isn’t the committee holding a hearing about the government’s abuse of Title IX? More generally, why isn’t there greater oversight of the perpetually out-of-control Obama Department of Justice?
The beer hearing is innocuous. So is the hearing on the Puerto Rican debt crisis, a problem to be sure, but not one that should preoccupy the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Other hearings make one think that Dick Durbin is setting the agenda, and I’m not just talking about the hearing on leniency for drug dealers. The committee has also held hearings on body cameras for police officers, the right to counsel for indigents charged with misdemeanors, asset forfeiture reform, and rape kits.
I’m not dismissing the possibility that marginal good might come from at least some of these hearings. I’m suggesting, instead, that the committee has its priorities wrong.
Our constitutional freedoms and the rule of law are in jeopardy, and the Republican controlled Judiciary Committee is fiddling. This isn’t what conservatives had in mind when we worked so hard last year to end the Democrats’ control of the Senate.
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