Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grassley Says Webb Commission Should "Do What We Tell Them To Do"

Sen. Charles Grassley, author of the censorship amendment to the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, was asked about his anti-speech tendencies by a reporter on a conference call today. The full transcript is below, but here's the most interesting part of what Sen. Grassley said: "[T]he point is, for them to do what we tell them to do. And one of the things that I was anticipating telling them not to do is to -- to recommend or study the legalization of drugs."

Also of note,the reporter then follows up to ask if his amendment would also ban discussion of medical marijuana by the commission, and the senator says "yes."

The best part just might be where Sen. Grassley tells the reporter that, "you want everything on the table." Yeah, except for sensible policy options like legalization, right?

Read on, and enjoy...
QUESTION: I hear there was an amendment to a bill tomorrow that would legally prevent some of the government's top advisers from -- according to some of the memos we've seen -- even discussing the idea of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs.

Can you talk a little bit about that? I understand that you pulled that amendment, but, nonetheless, I wanted to ask you what your intent is with that.

GRASSLEY: Well, my intent on that amendment isn't any different than any other amendments that are coming up. The Congress is setting up a commission to study certain things. And the commission is a -- is an arm of Congress, because Congress doesn't have time to review some of these laws.

And -- and -- and the point is, for them to do what we tell them to do. And one of the things that I was anticipating telling them not to do is to -- to recommend or study the legalization of drugs.

Their -- their program would be what we tell it it is. And one of the reasons that maybe there's -- there are several amendments that I floated around. And I probably only anticipated offering two or three of them anyway. You always circulate more amendments than you want to offer because you want everything on the table because once the agenda goes out, then it's too late to put something on the table without unanimous consent.

So -- and this isn't one of them.

But, getting back to what I started to say -- I got -- digressed there a little bit on explaining how the system works -- and that is that one of the things I think is going to come up is whether or not this commission on making recommendations has to have a simple majority or a super majority or maybe even by consensus. And the extent to which you get a larger percentage, particularly if it's consensus recommendations, you're probably going to get more reasonable and -- recommendations, and probably a narrower set of recommendations.

Actually, this is similar to, for instance, you probably don't remember this, but I was involved in rewriting the bankruptcy laws. Well, we set up a commission in the early 1990s, or maybe it was mid 1990s. They studied for two or three years and made recommendations. And -- and that was the basis for our legislation.

And so, this commission that Webb is suggesting would be a -- a basis for possible legislation in the future.

QUESTION: Would your amendment have even stopped the discussion of legalized marijuana for medical purposes?

GRASSLEY: I think that would not -- let's see. Yes, the extent to which it would be decriminalization, the answer is yes.



QUESTION: OK. Thank you. Thank you, Senator.

GRASSLEY: Yes, you bet.

The good thing is that Sen. Grassley seems to indicate that he is going to withdraw his amendment, but let's not take that for granted; please contact your senators right now and tell them to oppose censorship if they have to vote on this.

Audio of the senator defending his censorship amendment can be found here.


  1. A vivid example of how poorly RW conservatives seem to understand the democratic ideals they suppose themselves to be such passionate defenders thereof.

  2. I noticed they said he "pulled the amendment" is that senate jargon for proposed it? Or did he pull it from consideration? Hoping for the latter. Hopefully when I wake up tomorrow I'll hear news about how his amendment was rejected.

  3. When Grassley or someone he is close to suffers from the many maladies which can be soothed by marijuana, he'll change his tune. They usually do when something becomes personal. Too bad that kind of personality is the norm, rather than the exception; our elected officials should be doing our will, not their prejudices.

  4. …our elected officials should be doing our will, not their prejudices.

    In addition to "not their prejudices" I would add "not their monied overlords." The lobbying interests and mega corps who give them perks, campaign contributions, etc… are surely directing elected officials to do their bidding.

    But like you allude to, they should be following the founding documents (we do need to avoid the tyranny of the majority), and in any case, those corps would not exist if it weren't for we the people. The only reason those corps exist is because the rest of us are here to support them, yet they prey off us!

  5. In case anyone is following the comment feed, here is some related news from It seems someone is planning to run against him.


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