Supreme Court Nominee Fight Holds Risks for Both Sides

Feb 24, 2016

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, all eyes were on the Senate Judiciary Committee and its chair, Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Would the committee hold a hearing to vet President Obama’s nomination for the next Supreme Court Justice? A series of ambiguous statements from Grassley around the state last week are now clear: the Republicans of the committee will not hold any hearing until the next President is elected. Chris Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, says that’s a risk.

“The risk is not only harming the reputation of the Judiciary Committee or even the Senate majority but harming the reputation of the entire Republican Party during an election year. What’s interesting is that you see both Democrats and Republicans […] tapping into that sentiment that voters are frustrated with Congress because they see it as too political, and they see it as sort of an obstructionist, nothing gets done there.  There is a risk on both sides of them overplaying their hand on this.”

Rachel Caufield,  Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Drake and Associate Director of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, says that things may change once President Obama makes his choice.

“One of the big strategic considerations that’s going into his choice is: ‘Is this somebody we can sell among the American people? Can we get the American people behind this person so we can force Congress’s hand?’”

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Caufield and Larimer about the decision, Obama’s announcement on Guatanamo Bay, and results from the latest GOP primary.