Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has already made up his mind about considering a Supreme Court nominee in 2020.
Merrick Garland looms in Grassley’s memory and the promise he made not to hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee if a vacancy occurred in the final year of President Donald Trump’s term in office.
The Iowa Republican spoke with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum Tuesday, reflecting on Garland, former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016 following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings on Garland because of the upcoming elections that year.
“Merrick Garland is someone that a lot of people point to as the beginning of the most recent poisoning of this process,” MacCallum said. “If there is an opening on the court in the election year, in 2020, do you believe that the Senate should take up a nomination during that period?”
“If I’m chairman, they won’t take it up, no, because I pledged that in 2016, that if the ball is the same as it is — now if someone else is chairman of the committee, they’ll have to decide for themselves. But that’s a decision I made a long time ago,” Grassley replied.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a completely different view, however, telling Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that if a Supreme Court vacancy opened up in 2020, he would still consider holding hearings.
“We didn’t attack Merrick Garland’s background and try to destroy him, we didn’t go on a search and destroy mission,” he said, contrasting Obama’s pick with the way then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was treated.
“We simply followed the tradition in America which is that if you have a party of a different– a senate of a different party than the president you don’t fill a vacancy created in a presidential year,” he said. “That went all the way back to 1888.”