Blocking Merrick Garland Is Really About Fighting Abortion

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has opposed giving President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing from the very beginning, and he continued to stand by that decision after what he described as a "friendly" meeting with the judge. In a Susan B. Anthony List conference call of anti-abortion activists Monday night, Senator Grassley claimed that blocking Garland's nomination is a means to advance the anti-abortion agenda. By refusing to fulfill the Senate's constitutional obligation to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominees, Grassley suggested just how far GOP leadership will go to limit access to abortion.

"We know if another liberal is nominated to the court, then even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law — through the democratic process, I might say — these would be swept away," Grassley said during the conference call.

"These are life and death issues that we're fighting for," he continued. "They show just how important this fight over who's going to fill Scalia's seat is." The Iowa senator explained that he thinks the role of the Court is to interpret the law, not to make law, and doesn't want another justice who believes the Constitution is an evolving document. While that's a well-known Republican stance, Grassley's full statement confirmed that blocking Garland's nomination is about protecting existing abortion restrictions limiting American women's right to choose what's best for their bodies.

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The senator made it clear that he wants to fill the Court with judges who will uphold harmful anti-abortion legislation at every turn, slowly chipping away at women's access to safe, legal medical procedures. In the past, Grassley has voted to maintain abortion bans on military bases, make it a criminal offense to harm a fetus, and define unborn fetuses as children for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

GOP leadership has consistently attacked women's right to choose, from attempts to defund Planned Parenthood to trying to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Tying up a Supreme Court nomination because of their personal beliefs on the issue shows they're willing to do whatever it takes to limit access to abortion throughout the country. Just as the president has a constitutional obligation to nominate new Supreme Court justices when a vacancy arises, the Senate has a duty to hold a fair hearing for said nominees. Failing to do so means the Senate Republicans have no problem ignoring the Constitution in order to ensure that abortion access isn't expanded, which is a new low.

Grassley and other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to postpone appointing a new justice until the next president takes office in 2017, with the hope that a more conservative nominee will arise. Grassley told the other anti-abortion proponents on Monday's call: "With regard to whether we're going to move forward, nothing has changed."