Senator Chuck Grassley says the senate shouldn’t "rubber stamp" President Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. But Grassley, a Republican, says Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will receive "very fair and deliberate consideration" from senators.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings on Sotomayor’s nomination. "A lot of hard work for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee begins and I’m one of those members and I’m kind of sorry that it’s coming on top of all the work I have to do on health care reform," Grassley says.
Grassley is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, too, and that panel is drafting the key portion of health care reform legislation. Grassley has been on the Judiciary Committee since he became a senator in 1981 and is currently the longest-serving Republican on the panel.
"The committee has to take time to make sure the nominee will be true to the constitution and apply the law rather than personal politics, feelings or preferences. It’s our job to ask very thorough questions," Grassley says. "The senate, obviously, can’t be a rubber stamp — in the last 20 years on Supreme Court nominees (it) has not been a rubber stamp."
In early May, President Obama said he wanted to choose a justice who had "empathy" for the "hopes and struggles" of those who bring cases before the court. That statement’s on Grassley’s mind today.
"I think one of the things that I want to explore is if the president emphasizes this word ’empathy’ that I want to know how the judge, justice nominee takes that into consideration," Grassley says.
Earlier this month Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, said he hoped Obama would pick someone who was educated in a non-Ivy League school. Sotomayor, who is 54 years old, has an Ivy-League law degree, from Yale. She’d be the first Hispanic justice and one of two women on the court if she’s confirmed by the senate.