Senator Chuck Grassley prompted many surprised reactions with a tweet he sent shortly after the funeral of President George H.W. Bush on December 5, 2018.
The Judiciary Committee Chairman shared that he had chatted with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the funeral. Justice Thomas was nominated to his post in 1991 by the late president. The two likely talked about their own memories of President Bush.
But that’s not what Senator Grassley chose to share on social media. Instead, he posted about another topic he and Justice Thomas had touched on while at the funeral: women’s volleyball.
Senator Grassley’s tweet read, “To UNI volleyball fans/want u to know I talked w Justice Thomas at Bush funeral 2day, Justice Th. is a big fan of women’s volleyball so I will invite him to game in CFalls.”
If the two men decide to visit Cedar Falls, Iowa, together and attend a University of Northern Iowa game, they’ll have to wait until the 2019 season. The Panthers’ 2018 season is over. Northern Iowa lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Pepperdine University on November 29.
Some critics commented that the timing of the senator’s post was inappropriate. Some of those reactions included:
“Wow your first public words/thoughts after Bush funeral.??????????? So glad you could network at a funeral.”
“Volleyball at the funeral! Are you serious? Piece of work…”
“President Bush’s funeral,.. and you joke about volleyball ? Shame on you,…”
“So, instead of paying respects to President Bush, you were hooking Thomas up to ogle young female athletes? Tell me, is Beer o’Clock Brett bringing the keg and the “drinking games” too?”
“For real, this was what you decided to tweet first thing after Bush’s funeral? I mean. I MEAN.”
Many other commenters referred to the idea of the two men watching young women playing volleyball as “creepy” and “gross.” There were also several references to the controversy that surrounded Clarence Thomas during his nomination to the Supreme Court. Former staffer Anita Hill, who worked with Thomas at both the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accused him of sexual harassment. During her testimony before Congress, Hill spoke about an incident in which Thomas allegedly asked her, “who put pubic hair on my Coke?”
Some of the comments to Senator Chuck Grassley’s invitation for Justice Thomas to accompany him to a college volleyball game included:
“Sure…bring a sexual predator to a woman’s volleyball game. ??♀️”
“yes..no doubt that Thomas likes to see women jump up and down. but senator, make sure you check your can of Coke before taking a sip.”
“Don’t let Clarence near the players, Chuck. But if he sneaks in there, make sure to look away in the interest of semi-plausible deniability.”
“Hide your coke cans ladies!”
“Are you sure the women’s team wants him there? His record with women is pretty disgusting. I guess you don’t care about that tho.”
“You’re saying Clarence (of pubic hair on coke can fame) likes girls volleyball? That’s um something.”
There were a handful of responses from people who supported the invitation. One commenter shared that it was an opportunity for sports fans in Iowa to meet a sitting Supreme Court justice.
“Getting to meet a Supreme Court justice. Kinda a big deal. Especially the first black one. This shows you have been failed by your school, you should know how big a deal this is.”
“Love seeing the bitter people here, I myself after watching Chairman Grassley during the Kavanaugh hearings respect him and think of him as our modern Charlton Heston! Thank you from Texas!”
“So sweet sweet Senator ❤️ love justice Thomas”
Justice Thomas has not publicly responded and Senator Grassley did not include whether the justice had accepted his invitation.
Senator Grassley has previously shared his support for the University of Northern Iowa volleyball team. He is a frequent spectator at their games when he is home in Iowa. He was excited to share on Twitter in August 2018 that the team played before their first sell-out crowd. The tweet read, “U kno I like HISTORY & UNI vb Well 2night UNI vb had their 1st sell out in HISTORY gr8 fans 2night in the McLeod Center.”