If Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley were still chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, there might be a much different political landscape today with regard to the nominating of a new U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Grassley still serves on that panel but South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham is now the chair. “If I were chairman, I would likely decide to wait to hold hearings until after the election,” Grassley says. “Chairman Graham announced we will proceed with hearings and Leader (Mitch) McConnell said that we will vote on that nominee in the Senate.”
Both of Iowa’s U.S. senators serve on the committee and say they’ll follow the lead of Graham and McConnell. Grassley says he hasn’t missed a vote in the senate since 1993 and he’s not about to start now. “I’m a member of the Judiciary Committee and since that’s the case, it’s my responsibility to be there when the committee meets to evaluate the merits whichever nominee the president chooses,” Grassley says. “The Constitution provides the authorities to the president and the Senate to move forward like this.”
Critics say Grassley is reversing course from how he acted in 2016 when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. At that time, Grassley, a Republican, blocked Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court nominee of Democratic President Barack Obama.
“In 2016, with a Democrat president and a Republican senate, we had divided government which demanded clarity from the American people in the upcoming election,” Grassley says. “Obviously, this is not the case today.”
Grassley argues that the circumstances are different now, as the American people elected a Republican president and senate in 2016, then expanded the Republican senate majority in 2018. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at age 87 of pancreatic cancer.