WASHINGTON — Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, signed on with Republican colleagues Tuesday to say they won’t hold hearings to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“We wish to inform you of our intention to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this President to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy,” the letter from committee members to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell read, “Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017.”
Grassley had declined to take a position numerous times during a town hall meeting in Marengo last week on whether he would permit hearings when President Barack Obama recommended a replacement for Justice Scalia. He repeatedly said, a “step at a time” when asked how he would move forward.
President Obama has already said he would nominate a replacement, since he still has nearly a full year left on his final term in office. Republicans believe he should leave the seat vacant until the next President assumes the White House.
Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Ben Foecke criticized Grassley for blocking the efforts to fill the empty seat. He released this statement:
“The people of Iowa and a majority of Americans believe President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee should receive a full and fair Judiciary Committee hearing. But even before President Obama has a chance to announce a Supreme Court nominee, Chuck Grassley and GOP members of the Judiciary Committee have declared that no hearings will be held. Preemptively denying the President’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing on his or her qualifications, without even waiting for the President to name a nominee, is partisan obstructionism at its worst. Grassley and his Republican colleagues have decided to close their eyes and cover their ears instead of doing their jobs. Iowans deserve far better than this childish obstructionism from Senator Grassley.”