Grassley: If Senate Must Work Into Easter Break to Confirm Gorsuch--'Do It'

By Susan Jones | February 2, 2017 | 6:24am EST
Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch listens at left as Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

( - Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, estimates that a confirmation hearing for Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, will happen around six weeks from now.

And when the nomination finally makes it to the full Senate by the first week of April -- as Grassley anticipates it will -- it will be up against the April 10-21 Easter recess.

"If this comes to the Senate floor in the first week of April with the idea that we need to get that seat filled, and you are up against Easter break, I think that Senator McConnell ought to be telling the senators right now of what his plans are to move this along. And that if you have to go into the Easter break, do it," Grassley told Fox News's Bret Baier Wednesday night.

"Just so that people understand, there is nothing arbitrary about this. We know what it has taken to get other people through the Supreme Court justice process for the hearing and everything else. They generally follow a pattern, so I would guess that we ought to be able to have this on the Senate floor the first week of April if Senator McConnell wants to, and I think he does want to get it done.

"And that there will be days of debate...and then a vote, so that he could be sworn in on the Supreme Court, hopefully by the middle of April."

Grassley said he is proceeding on the assumption that Gorsuch "is going to be confirmed, and confirmed in the normal way," with 60 votes, the number required to end a filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also insists on having 60 votes for confirmation, saying on Wednesday it is "the right thing to do." (Schumer said if Gorsuch can't get 60 votes in the Senate, "then the problem lies not with the Senate but with the nominee.")

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that if McConnell (R-Ky.) cannot get the 60 votes needed to break a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch, then McConnell should "go nuclear"-- meaning Republicans should change Senate rules so that a Supreme Court nominee can be approved with a simple majority vote.

Grassley told Baier that Gorsuch shouldn't have any problem getting confirmed: "Even Democrats have said about him, who know him, he is an eminently fair and qualified person. He's a person that believes judges ought to judge and not legislate. He ought to interpret the Constitution as closely as he can to the original intent of the writers. He shouldn't be stretching federal law beyond congressional intent.

"He looks at it from a dispassionate point of view, which every judge should, the law, the facts of the case and leave your personal views out of it. That you look at the law and reach a conclusion that maybe you don't even agree with because that's what the law requires, the Constitution requires."

Grassley also noted that Gorsuch was confirmed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals by a unanimous vote.

Democrats have loudly complained that Republicans refused to give President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland the courtesy of a hearing, nevermind a vote, but Grassley rejected the criticism:

"Well, I think if there's people who want to bring that up, I think they should realize that I was at the center of that debate over whether Garland should come up or not. It was a big deal in my reelection in Iowa. And I made very clear in...the February 23rd letter, when I said that this should follow the Biden rule and that we would let the people choose..."

(Senate Republicans said any Supreme Court confirmation should wait until after the November election, so voters would have a say.)

"So I said well before the election that whoever is elected president, we are going to process (the Supreme Court nomination)," Grassley continued. So Trump was elected. We are processing his nominee, but people need to understand that I didn't know who was going to be elected. In fact, it even looked like up until Election Day, that Secretary Clinton was going to be the President. And if she were president, we would be processing her nominee."

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