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Senator Grassley delivers remarks at Family Leadership Summit

This news story was published on July 17, 2017.
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DES MOINES – Senator Charles Grassley gave a speech this weekend at the 6th annual Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines.

The Family Leadership Summit is “an annual get-together of thousands of Americans with a heart for God and a heart for America,” according to a website dedicated to the event. Many other conservatives spoke at the event, including President Donald Trump’s “counselor” Kellyanne Conway.

The following are Senator Grassley’s remarks:

Charles Grassley

Good morning. It’s so good to be here with all of you this morning to share in our Worship, Fellowship, and Leadership.

There’s no better way to start out my day. To give praise for our Lord and Savior. Every morning, I give thanks for another day to serve Him and to serve all of you as your elected representative in the U.S. Senate. It’s with gratitude I stand here today to celebrate Faith, Freedom, and Family.

As Americans, we are blessed to live in a nation where each of us is endowed with God-given, inalienable rights. Just 11 days ago, we celebrated the birth of America. Ours is a nation founded upon an idea: that each of us is created equal. As Americans, we share a common identity bound by self-evident truths. Our founding charter promises each of us “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

When America celebrated its 150th birthday, our 30th president observed that the Declaration of Independence was “a great spiritual document.” President Calvin Coolidge said the elements of America, our nationhood, are rooted in spiritual conceptions.

He said, “Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man – these are not elements which we can see or touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in religious convictions.”

I think all of us here today are on the same page with President Coolidge. He went on to say that we cannot overlook or take a simple truth for granted. “Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments.”

Our republic is strengthened by the sacred protection of our freedoms. We are a nation of laws and a free society that abides by the rule of law. As citizens, we are called to uphold the duties and responsibilities of citizenship to make America better and stronger for generations to follow.

Likewise, our system of government provides for three branches of government to ensure checks and balances to protect liberty, freedom and justice.

Holding public office and working for you is a privilege that I take to heart each and every day. In that Fourth of July address from 1926, President Coolidge also said, “The real heart of the American Government depends on the heart of the people.”

To that, I agree whole-heartedly. Common sense is too scarce inside the Beltway. Washington is an island surrounded by reality.

The strength of our republic is rooted in self-government. Don’t forget, the colonists were fed up with laws of the Crown and taxation without representation. In 1776, our founders laid claim to self-rule and self-government. They charted our destiny for free consent, free elections and a free society.

That brings me to the crux of my speech this morning. These exactly are the principles that guided my decision last year to hold off on the Supreme Court vacancy.

As you know, the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia created an unplanned vacancy on the High Court. In turn, I found myself last year leading an unexpected odyssey. It wasn’t about politics. It was about the principle of the matter.

As you know, Supreme Court justices serve lifetime appointments. The nomination for this vacancy stood to shape our American way of life for a generation or more. With only a few months remaining to Election Day, I joined the consensus of the Senate Majority. Hold off on the vacancy and let the people have a voice.

Of course, this decision released the hounds of 21st century partisan warfare. Well-financed political attacks heated up the landscape, from electronic billboards to digital advertising. Outside special interests poured in millions of dollars, orchestrated petition drives and sent in nasty letters to the editor. The then-Senate Minority Leader embarked on an unusually blunt, personal smear campaign on the floor of the Senate.

Let me tell you something though: 2016 confirms that the courage of one’s convictions withstands the test of leadership. And it doesn’t hurt to have thick skin. It comes in handy when you open up the newspaper and read the op-ed pages refer to you as “un-American.”

But I’m glad to be standing here today with good news. Principle and integrity can prevail, even in this political climate. We stood up for self-government and let the people decide. Ours is a government of, by, and for the people.

And lo and behold: The People chose the candidate who pledged to nominated what I would call a “judge’s judge.” And that’s exactly what President Trump did. He nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch, a superb jurist with impeccable credentials. I am confident he will serve with fairness and distinction for many years to come.

Many consider the Gorsuch nomination a political victory for conservatives who showed up to vote on Election Day. I consider this a consequential victory for our system of self-government. Letting the people decide strengthens the founding principles articulated so eloquently 241 years ago in Independence Hall.

Americans bear the burden and blessings of self-government. It’s our responsibility to carry forward the legacy of our American way of life and the inalienable rights of the individual. We are called to stay true to the blessings of leadership and citizenship. Let’s embrace the moral leadership that will secure the blessings of freedom, religious liberty and prosperity for generations to come.

In closing, I’d like to share with you today in Des Moines what our President shared on the world stage in Poland last week. Just two days after the Fourth of July, President Trump affirmed the ideals and principles that guide America and Western Civilization. He delivered a call to action for America and our allies.

Make no mistake. We face threats to our way of life, culture and civilization. We must stand strong and stand up for our shared values: the rule of law, free speech and free expression, religious liberty and freedom from oppression.

President Trump’s Warsaw speech telegraphed to the world that America is ready to lead. In his words, America and our allies must “confront forces….that threaten to undermine…And erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

Those of us here today know who we are and the principles for which we stand. Together we pledge allegiance to our shared values of freedom, life, liberty and justice for all. Thank you for inviting me to join this celebration of family, faith and freedom. May God bless you and your families. And may God bless America.

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