Senate Republicans could relent on their hard-line stance in opposition of granting Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing this year, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Monday.
The Iowa Republican said in February “it only makes sense” that the upper chamber punt replacing the late Antonin Scalia’s seat into 2017. Nevertheless, President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the high court in March.
Story Continued Below
Holding a Q-and-A at a meeting of the Sioux City Rotary Club, Grassley on Monday said there’s a widely accepted “understanding” that no Supreme Court vacancies be filled in the final year of a presidential term.
“It had nothing to do with Garland,” Grassley said, according to the Globe Gazette, referring to the Senate’s commitment not to give any SCOTUS nominee a confirmation hearing before a new administration takes over in 2017.
While unlikely, he added that Senate Republicans could change their position if enough senators push for a hearing after the November election, leaving the door open for Garland’s confirmation before the new Congress takes office should Donald Trump lose to Hillary Clinton.
But Grassley was optimistic that the real estate mogul could prevail over the former secretary of state, citing Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election.
“Everybody thought a movie star could not be a president of the United States,” he said.