Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Thursday he won’t rule out meeting with President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, but is standing by his decision not to consider a nomination until a new president is sworn in.
The Judiciary Committee chairman and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear they won’t schedule a hearing to fill the vacancy left by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in the wake of his death in February, saying the American people deserve to have a say in the political direction the Supreme Court takes.
“If I can meet with a dictator in Uganda, I can surely meet with a decent person in America,”he told CNN, referring to Obama’s pick, Judge Merrick Garland. “I want to make it clear that the message we told him on the phone yesterday I will tell him face-to-face.”
McConnell told the nominee he won’t meet with him in a phone call Wednesday afternoon.
“As Chairman Grassley and I declared weeks ago, and reiterated personally to President Obama, the Senate will continue to observe the Biden Rule so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. The so-called “Biden Rule” is a reference to Biden’s comments in 1992 urging the president not to nominate a Supreme Court justice in an election year.
“The American people may well elect a President who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell added. “The next may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”
Democrats have slammed the decision – despite their call to block former President George W. Bush’s nominees during his tenure – saying it’s the Senate’s duty to hold a hearing.
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