WASHINGTON — Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley met with Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday to discuss an unprecedented situation.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last month, leaving the question of who should nominate his replacement: Obama or the next president?
Initially, Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would take the process of addressing a Supreme Court nomination “a step at a time.” He then signed on with Republican colleagues to say they won’t hold hearings to replace the late justice during a presidential campaign.
Grassley was joined Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of who stand firm in saying the next president will choose the Scalia’s replacement.
Obama said he would like to find a replacement before then.
After the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the nomination process is just another sign of a major shift in the GOP way of thinking and governing.
“I think that the Republican Party is changing before our eyes. Donald Trump, Cruz, Rubio — they’re all on the same kettle. They’re all agreeing with Trump in one way or another. So, we’re seeing before our eyes a new Republican Party,” Reid said.
Grassley’s Take on ‘Cordial’ White House Meeting
In an interview with Channel 13’s Dave Price, Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday’s meeting was “very cordial.”
Grassley was joined by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who spoke on behalf of the 52 of 54 Republicans that say a new Supreme Court justice should be chosen by the next president.
Grassley said he’s not getting pressure from McConnell or senior Republicans.
“As any chairman ought to do, you go to the members of your committee. So I went to the members and convinced them of my position, and they all agreed with me, for different reasons,” he said.
Only two of the 54 Republicans had different views.
“We do have a constitutional responsibility,” Grassley continued.
He said Obama will presumably move ahead, and the Senate can either vote for or against the nominee or withhold judgement at this point.
“We’re inclined to do the latter,” Grassley said.
Obama could nominate Iowa District Court Judge Jane Kelly. When asked if Iowans would be disappointed if Kelly did not have a chance to have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, he said, “This is not about a person. This is about a process.”
It’s a matter of the very important role the Supreme Court plays in the constitutional process, Grassley said.
He said our current Supreme Court has a balance between liberals, conservatives and one moderate. Grassley said Obama wants justices to be able to show empathy and understanding.
“That’s not the rule of law. That’s the rule of humankind. That isn’t the way our constitutional system works. It’s based on the rule of law … not your own individual instincts.”