Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks

Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada MORE (R-Iowa), the former chairman and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to release a list of candidates that he would consider for the Supreme Court. 

Grassley's push for Biden to release a public list comes after President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE took the unusual step of releasing a list in 2016 in a bid to shore up his support with conservatives. Trump released another list last week that included an additional 20 Supreme Court prospects. 

“I hope Vice President BidenJoe BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE will agree with me that the American people deserve this information before the election, not after. I call on Vice President Biden to release the list of names from which he would nominate to the Supreme Court, no later than September 30th," Grassley said in a statement.

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"The Biden-Harris ticket owes voters the same transparency President Trump has demonstrated along with the same commitment to nominate from that list should there be a vacancy. There’s no reason to hide something as consequential as who would be named to our highest court,” he added.

If Republicans hold on to the Senate, and Biden wins the White House, Grassley is expected to take back the gavel of the Judiciary Committee starting in January, a position that would allow him to determine which judicial picks get taken up by the Senate. Grassley, when he was chairman of the committee, did not give a hearing or a vote to Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandProtesters shut down Greene-Gaetz Jan. 6 event Cheney calls Gaetz, Greene DOJ protest a 'disgrace' Has Trump beaten the system? MORE, then-President Obama's Supreme Court nominee in 2016. 

The courts, which have long been a top priority for Republicans, have increasingly been viewed as a political lightning rod during the Trump era. Republicans nixed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017 — after Democrats got rid of it for most nominations in 2013 — and have confirmed circuit court picks over opposition from one or both Democratic home-state senators. 

Progressive outside groups have also called on Biden to release a Supreme Court list, arguing that it would help energize voters who did not view the former vice president as their first choice in the crowded Democratic primary field.

Asked about guidance on if, or when, the Biden campaign would release a Supreme Court list, a spokesman referred to a recent statement asking when Trump would release his tax returns, something he has so far refused to do.

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"We look forward to Donald Trump releasing his tax returns in the spirit of his newfound appreciation for transparency,” said Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo.

The former vice president appeared to commit in late June to releasing a list of Black female judges he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court before November’s general election against Trump. But so far his campaign has not released a list. 

“We are putting together a list of a group of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court,” Biden said at the time. “I am not going to release that until we go further down the line in vetting them.” 

Top Senate Democrats, including members of the Judiciary Committee, have argued that Biden should not release a list. 

“I sincerely hope he does not do that,” Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ill.) told The Hill earlier this year. “We ought to go back to the regular order of things. If and when vacancies occur he can look for the very best person at that moment."  

--This report was updated at 10:39 a.m.