Grassley Doesn't Rule Out Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee

PHOTO: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley walks to the chamber in Washington, Feb. 10, 2016. PlayJ. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
WATCH President Obama and the Battle Over the Supreme Court

The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee has not ruled out holding hearings for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, as Democrats and Republicans battle over filling the vacancy on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

In an interview with Iowa radio reporters Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he would make a decision on hearings after Obama announces his nominee.

Also Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Obama has "every right" to put forward a nominee, but said Congress "has every right not to confirm someone."

"I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions, in other words, take it a step at the time," Grassley said. "This is a very serious position to fill and it should be filled and debated during the campaign and filled by either Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders or whoever is nominated by Republicans."

On Saturday, Grassley, following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's lead, said in a statement that the next president should fill the vacancy on the court left by Scalia, who died Saturday at a resort in West Texas.

"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," he said in a statement Saturday.

Democrats have criticized Grassley for his stance on filling the seat on the court, pointing to comments he made in 2008 against Democrats delaying the consideration of Bush administration judicial nominees.

The Des Moines Register, Iowa's largest paper, criticized the Iowa Republican for his stance, saying he missed an "opportunity for our senior senator to be less of a politician and more of a statesman."