Sen. Chuck Grassley on U.S. Supreme Court vacancy: ‘You’re put into this position by people beyond my control’

Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters Wednesday that while he’s been accused of hypocrisy regarding his stance on nominating a Supreme Court justice during an election year, Democrats have also flipped their 2016 position.


Katie Goodale

U.S Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters during a press conference at Mercy Hospital on July 2, 2019.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

In a conference call with reporters, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Democrats in Congress have reversed their 2016 position on confirming a U.S. Supreme Court nominee during an election year, after Democrats pushed for Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016 and are now opposing a potential nominee from President Trump.  

“The word hypocritical has been used in regard to asking me a couple questions this morning, and are you accusing the Democrats of being hypocritical?” Grassley said Wednesday.

Grassley said in 2018 while he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would oppose a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee during an election year. In 2016 after the death of former justice Antonin Scalia, Grassley would not hold a hearing for Obama’s nominee. 

Now, with the death of former justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Grassley has flipped his position, saying because he is no longer chairman of the committee, he cannot tell the current chairman what he should or shouldn’t do regarding a hearing for Trump’s eventual nominee less than two months from Election Day.

Grassley said he’s been put in this position — whether or not to support Trump’s nominee — by people out of his control.

“I can only speak for one of the 100 senators, and that’s Chuck Grassley, and I’ve stated what I did in 2016, and I said, if I was chairman of the [judiciary] committee in … 2020, that I wouldn’t hold the hearing,” Grassley said. “So what other people do I have no control over and the impact that makes on the public.”

Democrats critical of the Senate Majority Leader’s move to begin a confirmation process say that Republicans in the Senate should uphold the decision made in 2016 to wait for a new president to be elected before holding a hearing.

Grassley released a statement on Monday, saying the American people reaffirmed their support for Trump by expanding the Republican majority in the Senate in 2018, and that there was a divided-government in 2016.

“Over the years, and as recently as July, I’ve consistently said that taking up and evaluating a nominee in 2020 would be a decision for the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader. Both have confirmed their intentions to move forward, so that’s what will happen. Once the hearings are underway, it’s my responsibility to evaluate the nominee on the merits, just as I always have,” Grassley said in his Monday statement.