DES MOINES — Nothing personal, Jane Kelly, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who guided your unanimous confirmation to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, isn’t going to consider your appointment to the Supreme Court should the president nominate you.
“It’s totally irrelevant” who the nominee is, Grassley said repeatedly to questions about whether he will consider the nomination of Kelly, who reportedly is being vetted by President Barack Obama. Kelly, 51, of Cedar Rapids, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2013.
“It’s a matter of the principle and not the person,” according to the Iowa Republican.
And it’s not just him saying that, Grassley said during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters.
“It’s a case of probably 52 or 53 people in our caucus that you would get the same answer,” he said. “It’s about the principle of letting the American people speak.”
Senate Republicans, who want to prevent a leftward ideological shift on the Supreme Court, have taken the position that filling the seat held by the late Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, should be chosen by the winner of the November election.
Grassley, who acknowledged his position makes him “the point of (Democrats’) spear,” said Democrats, who know that whoever Obama nominates will not be considered, are simply playing politics.
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That’s unfair to the country because there is so much the Senate could be getting done, according to Grassley, who mentioned he was rated the fifth most bipartisan senator according to a Georgetown University survey of how much senators work across party lines.
Twenty-one bills have come out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, including an opioid bill awaiting floor debate that is likely to pass “almost unanimously,” he said.
“There are so many of these things we can work on,” he said. “(Democrats) are just simply trying to score political points instead of getting things done.”
He said he plans to proceed as normal — as if there wasn’t a partisan fight over a Supreme Court nomination.
“There’s a lot I am going to get done, even if I’m the point of this spear,” Grassley said.
It’s probably no consolation to Obama, but when asked, Grassley said he will reserve judgment on a potential President Trump appointee until one is nominated.