Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley sat down with Judge Merrick Garland for a breakfast meeting in Washington D.C. this morning.
Garland is President Barrack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Grassley says it was a good conversation, but it didn’t change his mind and he will not call for a hearing on Garland.
“I don’t think it would be fair for me to say anything about what Judge Garland said to me,” Grassley says. “We had a very good discussion, a very friendly discussion. He answered my questions adequately. I just don’t think I’m going to characterize it other than to say we had a friendly discussion.”
Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee which would hold hearings on nominees to the nation’s high court.
A former Grassley campaign staff member, Keith Uhl, is joining the chorus of critics who say Grassley needs to — in Uhl’s words — “man up” and hold a hearing. Uhl, a lawyer in Des Moines, says Grassley’s refusal to follow the Constitution and allow Garland’s nomination to be considered is hurting the judicial branch of government.
Uhl says, “We need a Supreme Court in the position to be able to make decisions, to get past a tie, regardless of which way it cuts.” Uhl helped to manage Grassley’s first run for U.S. Senate in 1980. Uhl says he’s a Republican though reports say he donated money to President Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Uhl says Iowans are “disturbed” by Grassley’s refusal to budge on the Garland nomination.
Grassley says he and Uhl simply don’t see eye to eye on this issue. “He was in my early campaigns for the Senate, he played a prominent role and I thank him for his support and I still consider him a friend,” Grassley says. “We have honest differences of opinion.” The president’s choice, Garland, is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Grassley says the next president should pick a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. “This is something that, when you’re in a lame duck year, the president that’s leaving office shouldn’t fill it,” Grassley says. “The people ought to have a voice through their presidential selection process and that new president should make the appointment.”
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, was part of a conference call with Uhl on Monday that called for a hearing and vote on Garland. To coincide with this morning’s Grassley/Garland breakfast, a restaurant in downtown Des Moines renamed several of its breakfast items to include: Obstruction Oats, Advice and Consent Cappuccino and Constitution Quiche.