Grassley on potential Supreme Court retirements: 'Do it yesterday'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFlake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Markets roiled by Trump's new tariff threat | Trump lashes out at Canada over trade | Warren looks to block Trump pick for consumer agency The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback MORE (R-Iowa) has a request for Supreme Court justices who may be planning to retire: Do it now.

The Senate Judiciary Committee told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday that if there is a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, Republicans want to do it before the November elections.

"I just hope that if there is going to be a nominee, I hope it’s now or within two or three weeks, because we’ve got to get this done before the election," Grassley said.

"So my message to any one of the nine Supreme Court justices, if you’re thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday," he added.

Grassley's comments come as the yearly speculation about potential Supreme Court retirements kicks into high gear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (R-Ky.) got questioned about a potential retirement by Fox News this week and by Hewitt last week.

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A Supreme Court vacancy would throw a political lightening rod into the middle of the Senate's schedule, where a fight over lower court nominations is already becoming increasingly heated.

Republicans have fueled potential retirement talk—most of it focused at perennial swing vote Anthony Kennedy—for months as they look for ways to turn out GOP voters heading into the midterm election.

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback MORE (R-Nev.), who faces a difficult reelection bid, told an audience in Las Vegas that he hoped Kennedy's retirement would “get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated."

Grassley stressed separately on Thursday that he wasn't trying to force a justice to quit but noting that if they were already planning to retire and wanted a GOP-controlled Senate to confirm them they should retire soon because of the amount of time it takes to process the nominations.

"There's always these rumors at this time of year. So beyond these rumors I've got nothing to say. I was just commenting. I'm not advising anybody to retire," he told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Grassley added that he believes a nomination needs to be done before the midterm election in November and that it takes 60-70 days on average for a Supreme Court nomination to officially be sent to the Senate after the nominee is announced.

"If they're the type of people that want [President] Trump to replace them, or a Republican president to replace them ... they ought to think about retiring yesterday," he said.

Pressed on why it needs to be done before the election, Grassley fired back: "Because elections have consequences. We could end up without having a Republican Senate."

Republicans went "nuclear" last year to get rid of the 60-vote filibuster so they could confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE's first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.

That means with a 51-seat majority, if every Republican senator supported a Supreme Court nominee Democrats would be powerless to block the individual.