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Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said he will keep an open mind on President Joe Biden’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Grassley, though, indicated he preferred a candidate who strictly limits or restricts their interpretation of legal and constitutional language to their literal meaning or original intent.
The top Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley said he planned to ask Jackson and other judicial nominees being reviewed by the committee questions about their philosophies on interpreting laws beyond their literal text.
“I’m going to make sure that they understand and answer my questions about the role that they have as judges to interpret law and not to make law,” Grassley told Iowa reporters ahead of a meeting with Jackson on Wednesday afternoon. “So I'm going to ask them about if you find that there's a void in a certain statute that Congress passed maybe 50 years ago or 20 years ago, is it your job to fill in those details? Or is that my job as the legislator because they aren't supposed to be super legislators, they're supposed to interpret.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that hearings on Jackson's confirmation to the Supreme Court will begin March 21, keeping the Senate on track for a possible final vote next month.
If confirmed, Jackson, a federal appeals court judge, would become the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only Republicans who voted to confirm Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Despite not supporting Jackson's confirmation to the seat on the appeals court last year, Grassley pledged to keep an open mind in considering her for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Grassley said he planned to meet with Jackson one-on-one Wednesday afternoon, where he said he planned to “let her do most of the talking.”
“I want her to know me. I want to know her. I’m not going to get into a lot of specific questions with her,” Grassley told reporters. “Those are going to be reserved for the open committee meeting where everything’s on the record.”
Grassley pledged the process would be respectful.
"Both in the meeting I have with her as well as what we do in the open session, at least on my side of the aisle, we're going to operate — the processes is going to be — respectful and dignified," Grassley said, in contrast to the contentious, intense partisan battles that took place during the confirmation hearings of the last three justices appointed to the Supreme Court, all nominees chosen by then-President Donald Trump.