SCOTUS Nominee Meets Quietly With Grassley

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A Senate Republican refusing to hold confirmation hearings on the president’s Supreme Court nominee met with the judge for breakfast Tuesday but held fast to his position.
     Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Judge Merrick Garland for just more than an hour Tuesday morning away from reporters and cameras in the Senate dining room.
     A statement from the Iowa senator’s office says the meeting was “cordial and pleasant,” but that Grassley told Garland why the Senate wouldn’t consider his nomination during “this hyperpartisan election year.”
     The Judiciary Committee has vowed not to hold hearings on Garland, under Grassley’s lead, but Senate Democrats have found it heartening that the blockade is weakening, as demonstrated in recent weeks by the number of Republicans who have met with the current chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
     “It’s really a step towards sanity that Republicans are finally meeting with Judge Garland,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday. “Not many, but there are some meetings. But private breakfast meetings and people going down the back stairs does not allow much transparency.”
     Beyond the terse, paragraph-long release he sent reporters an hour after the meeting ended, Grassley has largely kept quiet about the details of his meeting.
     Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., quoted remarks Grassley gave before his 2009 meeting with Justice Sonya Sotomayor, ahead of her confirmation vote. Before that meeting, the Iowa Republican promised to give the then-nominee a “fair and respectful hearing, as is appropriate of all Supreme Court nominees.”
     While Grassley faces continued criticism from those across the aisle, a new ad buy set to begin in his home state of Iowa on Wednesday seeks to turn up the heat on the senator, who is up for re-election in the fall.
     The ad, backed by liberal political organization Agenda Project Action Fund, hits Republicans, and Grassley in particular, for their recalcitrance. In the minute-long advertisement, an actor portraying Grassley gives “no comment” answers to reporters before scurrying through a door.
     After a narrator asks what Republicans “do do” if they aren’t confirming Obama’s nominee, the actor is shown sitting on a toilet, American flag boxers around his ankles, reading a copy of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.”
     “Republicans, just doing their business on your dime,” the narrator says as the actor hums “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
     Republicans in the Senate have vowed not to hold hearings on any Obama nominee, instead saying the next president should be allowed to pick a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly in February. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood firm on this commitment Tuesday, citing a large number of Republicans who have joined the leadership line.
     “Well, I think the fundamental point we’ve made here we’ve made over and over and over again is who ought to make the appointment,” McConnell told reporters when asked if he would take the filibuster off the table for the nominee. “And 52 senators have said they believe the next president ought to make this appointment and the next Senate will decide how to dispose of that under the advice and consent.”

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