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

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley extends deadline for Kavanaugh accuser to decide on testifying Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Kavanaugh accuser seeks additional day to decide on testimony 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 McConnellGOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins 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 HellerHeller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November McConnell suggests he could hold Senate in session through October The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify 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 TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate 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.