Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has a reputation for being fair-minded. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is a Democratic member of the committee who balked at the nomination of a Minnesota judge to a federal appeals court.
Since the issue was procedural, Grassley thought he could win Franken over. But it was harder than he'd figured on. To get a hearing before the committee, a nominee's home state senators must send in so-called blue slips. The other senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, had done so. Franken hadn't.