CEDAR RAPIDS — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to oppose federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh “with everything I’ve got,” but Sen. Chuck Grassley expects the Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed with bipartisan support.
The key, however, is for U.S. Senate Republicans to stick together, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee told reporters Wednesday. If the majority party puts up 50 or 51 votes for President Donald Trump’s nominee, Grassley expects a few Democrats will join them to confirm Kavanaugh with 54 or 55 votes.
“If we don’t have at least 50 votes, I’m sure that no Democrat would dare give us the 50th vote,” Grassley said on the second day of committee hearings on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
With the Democratic base telling Schumer he’s not fighting hard enough to block the Kavanaugh confirmation “you’ve got to assume he’s not going to let them do that,” Grassley said.
“If we don’t have 50 (Republican) votes, then he won’t be on the Supreme Court,” Grassley concluded.
Grassley is not surprised by the partisan nature of the confirmation process but said he would welcome a return to the pre-Bork nature of Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Ronald Reagan nominee Robert Bork was rejected 42-58 in 1987.
The confirmations of Justices Elena Kagan (63-37), Sonia Sotomayor (68-31) and Samuel Alito (58-42) were partisan, “but not highly,” Grassley said.
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The 54-45 confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year “was just as partisan but not as raucous” as the current hearing, which has been disrupted by hecklers and Democratic attempts to delay the vote on Kavanaugh, he said.
Grassley noted that he voted for “very liberal” nominees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, who were confirmed 96-3 and 87-9, respectively.
“The well was poisoned about the year 2002 when Democrats figured we’ve got to enter politics into it,” Grassley said. “That continued through the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now the Trump administrations.
“I don’t see an opportunity to get back to back to it very soon,” he said about the prospects of confirming justices based on temperament and qualifications rather than political ideology.
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