A prominent anti-abortion lobbyist acknowledged this weekend that Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is deliberately slow-walking President Obama’s federal judicial nominees at all levels in order to keep seats on the courts open for the next president to fill.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, said on Saturday at his group’s convention in Virginia that “the left is quite unhappy with the number of nominations that have not come to a vote in the Senate.” This, he said approvingly, is because Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have “moved with very deliberate speed on those nominations and it’s safe to predict that there will be quite a number of vacant seats on the federal courts, including that Supreme Court vacancy, when the election rolls around.”
“There certainly would be a lot more Obama-nominated federal judges if the Senate had remained in Democrat hands,” he said.
Grassley has denied that he is slow-walking federal judicial nominations, despite ample evidence to the contrary, telling The Des Moines Register in April that he is simply following the practice of Democrats and Republicans alike.
Johnson particularly praised Grassley and McConnell for blockading the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
After Scalia died, he said, “the Senate majority leader reached out to senators all across the country and the world and indicated that what they had to do is take a hard line that this seat was not going to be filled by Barack Obama in the last year of his presidency, that who fills this seat was going to be determined by the person selected to be president by the American people in November. And they agreed to that.”
McConnell, he said, “knew what had to be done.”
“This made a difference,” he said. “If this had been a Democrat Senate, possibly even been a Republican Senate under different leadership, that seat would have been long since filled.”
He added that he was disappointed that the Senate’s obstruction of the Garland nomination hadn’t stopped a victory for abortion rights in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, but noted that it “has been decisive on some other important matters.”