Washington, D.C. — Senator Charles Grassley says just because he wouldn’t schedule a nomination hearing to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg during an election year, he won’t oppose Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham from doing so because they are in charge. The Senator clarified the logic behind his apparent reversal in a call with Iowa reporters on Thursday.
In 2016, Grassley was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he refused to hold nomination hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Grassley said at the time that the decision on the next Supreme Court nominee should be made by the next President since Scalia’s death fell within an election year.
Now that that exact case is being presented again, Grassley now says he will go along with the process. On Thursday he more narrowly defined his 2016 stance, saying he was speaking as a Chairman of the committee. Now that he is not Chairman, he says his decision-making must be different.
“I am not making that decision to move ahead so I don’t miss committee meetings and I have a responsibility to be there to question the nominee,” Grassley said Thursday, “I get paid to do a job and I’m a member of the committee and the chairman calls a meeting of the committee, I could stay away from the meeting of the committee if I want to but then I won’t be doing my job for the people of Iowa so I’ll be there to do that.”
Grassley says there is another obvious difference between 2016 and 2020: Republicans are in control of both the White House and the Senate this year, when the Obama Administration still held the White House in 2016.
“In 2016 we had divided government. We had a Republican Senate and Democrat(ic) President. You have to go back to 1888 that a judge was approved under those circumstances,” Grassley says, “This year we don’t have divided government. We have a Republican President and a Republican Senate. So those are the rationale.”
President Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday evening. Grassley says he expects hearings will be scheduled before Election Day. He wouldn’t say how early he expects McConnell to set a final confirmation vote.
Grassley offered his thoughts on the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well on Thursday. He says her legacy will as a champion of equality.
“We’ll be celebrating her life and remembering the great contributions she’s made to equality among all people. That could be race, it could be gender, it could be whatever you want to talk about throughout history the growth of equality has increased over a period of time and her work on the Supreme Court has a lot to do with that,” Grassley said.
Grassley voted ‘yes’ on Bader Ginsburg’s nomination in 1993. She was confirmed by a vote of 96-3.