Sen. Grassley says position on Supreme Court is not hypocritical

ap photo In this June 17 file photo, Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer appears at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on U.S. trade on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sen. Charles Grassley insisted Wednesday that he is not a hypocrite for going back on a statement he made to constituents four years ago about whether the Senate should take up nominations for U.S. Supreme Court justice during an election year.

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, drew condemnation from Democrats in 2016 when, as Judiciary chairman, he blocked confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the high court after Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in February 2016.

At the time, Grassley cited “the Biden Rule” in holding up the process. The reference to such a “rule” stemmed from a speech given by then-Sen. Joe Biden in 1992 that the Senate should not fill a Supreme Court vacancy until after the presidential election.

More recently, Grassley told reporters in July that if he still chaired Judiciary and a vacancy occurred, “I would not have a hearing on it because that’s what I promised the people in 2016.”

He said Wednesday he’s not going back on his word because his answer was conditioned on being chairman and being in a position to decide whether to move forward on a nomination. Since he’s not the chairman, a post now held by Sen. Lindsey Graham, he’s not inconsistent, he said.

“If people read my entire statement, they can’t accuse me of being hypocritical because I’m not chairman now. I’m within what I said in 2016,” he said on a telephone call with Iowa reporters.

Grassley said he would not judge whether Graham’s past statements were hypocritical. Graham previously has adamantly stated that he would not move forward with a nominee under the circumstances that now exist.

“I’m not going to make a determination of some other senator being hypocritical or not because of Rule 19 of the United States Senate. I could say to you somebody’s hypocritical and not violate it but if I did that on the floor of the Senate I could be censured. So, I don’t think I ought to be questioning other people’s motives,” he said.


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