The confirmation battle over U.S. District Judge Edward Chen is over, but he's still in the GOP's crosshairs.
Remarks -- many of them light-hearted, others heartfelt -- made during Chen's recent induction ceremony became the latest fodder for Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who had opposed Chen's appointment. From the Senate floor on Monday, the senator called on Chen to recuse himself from cases involving the ACLU, Chen's former employer. And he suggested the judge apologize to Sen. Jeff Sessions for "mocking" the Alabama Republican.
Grassley was responding to accounts on Legal Pad, and elsewhere, covering the Sept. 27 induction ceremony, saying it seemed more like a "political rally" than judicial event. He noted Chief Judge James Ware's quip about Chen considering political office considering the unprecedented size of the crowd gathered to celebrate.
"That is what many of us thought was more appropriate for Judge Chen, rather than appointment as a federal judge" Grassley said, according to a transcript.
Around 900 supporters packed multiple courtrooms for the ceremony. Speeches -- including those by judges, Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- included commentary about the lengthy confirmation battle. Chen poked fun at himself and some of his fellow judges. And at one point he quoted Sessions -- channeling a Southern drawl -- as offering a short "good luck" to fellow nominee Richard Seeborg, who sailed through the process.
Chen, using Sessions' own words about Obama nominees having an "ACLU chromosome," told the crowd that wasn't a "disease" but an "honor."
Grassley seized on that.
"If the ACLU is an opposing litigant, is there any way to think Judge Chen can be fair and impartial?" Grassley said. "I would think mandatory recusal would be required in any ACLU case coming before him."