Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still saying he will not hold confirmation hearings, now that President Obama has selected a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
President Obama nominated D.C. Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court this morning. Senator Grassley wants to hold off on hearings until after the presidential election. When asked in a conference call with reporters today why one president’s opinion is more valid than another’s, Grassley says voters elected a new congress in 2014.
“By Obama’s own words he saw the takeover of the U.S. Senate by the biggest change in membership since 1980 election as a referendum on his program and administration so the senate is responding to the people’s voicing their disagreements with the president,” Grassley said.
Grassley says he is open to meeting with Garland, and was planning to speak to the nominee by phone this afternoon.
In 1997, Grassley voted not to confirm Garland for a seat on the DC circuit court, but said he seemed well-qualified and would probably make a good judge in some other court where the seat needs to be filled.
Iowa’s freshman Senator Joni Ernst today also defended the Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider the nomination. In a telephone conference with Iowa reporters this morning, Senator Ernst said it’s the timing of the nomination, rather than a concern about the nominee.
“We’re not focused on any one individual,” she said. “What we are looking at is the fact that the next President has the opportunity to take up his or her nomination. So we will wait and see.”