Sen. Grassley Waffles on Scalia: Helps Obama, Democrats Push for Replacement Judge

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

When news of Antonin Scalia’s death spread Feb. 13, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was quick to point to “80 years” of precedent against confirming a Supreme Court justice during an election year, suggesting Scalia’s replacement is for the next president to choose, rather than for President Barack Obama.

But that was Saturday. By Tuesday Grassley had reshuffled his position and said he “had not ruled out holding hearings on Mr. Obama’s eventual nominee to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.”

The apparent step back is a boon for Obama because it allows him and his supporters– including many in the media — to increase media coverage of Obama’s demands and to raise political pressure on other GOP Senators.

But to defeat Obama’s push, media consultants say, the GOP’s politicians should keep repeating an identical, dull and vague response on the issue, which would eventually starve the media of new drama that allows Obama to keep political pressure on the GOP.

The New York Times reported Grassely’s flip-flop as going from a position of firmly rejecting the idea of Obama nominating a replacement to giving Obama “some leeway.” NYT referred to this as a “very modest backtracking” of what Grassley Saturday.

On Feb. 13, Grassley said:

The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year.  Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.

On February 16 he told Radio Iowa he is not ready to rule out holding hearings for an Obama nominee. Rather, Grassley said, “I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions. In other words, take it a step at a time.”

With the SCOTUS divided 4 -4 on Heller, an open door for an Obama nominee could quickly become the surest way to close the door on gun rights.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at