Law & the Courts

Grassley Invokes Anti-Kavanaugh Smears at Garland Hearing

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) speaks during A.G. nominee Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., February 22, 2021. (Al Drago/Reuters)

At Merrick Garland‘s confirmation hearing to become attorney general on Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) stood by his earlier opposition to holding a hearing on Garland’s 2016 nomination to the Supreme Court and took shots at Democrats for their treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

He noted that he and other Republicans decided not to hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016 as it was “an election year with a divided Congress.”

Former President Barack Obama nominated Garland after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Republicans who controlled the Senate at the time declined to consider the nomination during an election year and the vacancy was ultimately filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by former President Trump.

“The position I took was consistent with previous publicly expressed positions by other senators and Democratic senators previous to that,” he said. “So, yes it’s true that I didn’t give Judge Garland a hearing.”

“I also didn’t mischaracterize his record,” Grassley added, referencing Democrats’ behavior during Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation hearings in 2018. “I didn’t attack his character. I didn’t go through his high school yearbook. I didn’t make his wife leave the hearing in tears. I took a position on hearings and I stuck to it.”

Grassley went on to say he admires Garland’s public service. Biden’s nominee for attorney general was a longtime prosecutor and federal appeals court judge.

“Just because I disagreed with anyone being nominated didn’t mean that I had to be disagreeable to that nominee,” the Iowa Republican said.

“Unfortunately that’s not always the way it works in this town that has great political divisions,” he added.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin reportedly told CNN that he expects Garland’s nomination will be approved by the panel next Monday, with a full Senate vote next week.

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