Dear Senator Grassley,
Thank you for your long and faithful service to our country as a United States Senator from Iowa. I am writing as one of your constituents; one who has passion for the common good and for the strength that our Constitution provides our democracy.
President Obama intends to nominate a replacement for the Supreme Court opening that has resulted from the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. I would be disappointed in any President who would abdicate his/her constitutional duty to fill such an important office.
I agree with you—we are living in critical times, and the people need to have a say in who will make such an important decision. When we elected our current President and current Senate, we did so expecting our leadership to provide for a government where all three branches work without delay and dismissal of urgent and critical work. We did not elect our leadership so that they could defer their responsibility to future office holders. I believe that, with so many important matters to come before the Court, now and in the near future, millions of Americans would prefer a fully-staffed and functioning Supreme Court. I am not alone in this belief.
The Senate leadership’s decision not to hold hearings on any nominee that President Obama puts forward for the Supreme Court vacancy is unprecedented since hearings became a practice in 1955. Is it not true that the average time between hearings and confirmation is 67 days? Is it not true that President Lyndon Johnson nominated justices near the end of his term in 1968 and that President Andrew Jackson nominated two justices on his last full day in office in 1837? In the last year of President Ronald Reagan's tenure, Justice Anthony Kennedy was nominated and confirmed.
President Obama has constitutional responsibility and authority to nominate a qualified justice for our Supreme Court. The Senate has constitutional authority and responsibility to provide hearings and give or withhold consent as part of the confirmation. To block or ignore the President’s nominee, and not proceed with hearings because it is an election year, is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibilities and a sacrifice of our Constitution on the basis of partisan politics.
Please know that I would write this same letter whomever the President may be, for every President is faced with the same responsibilities.
It is a matter of justice that our Supreme Court not be hampered in its work by a delay. I join other citizens and appeal to you and the entire Senate, once a nomination is made, to move forward with the process of hearings and confirmation vote.
Thank you for your service and your longstanding commitment to listen to the American people.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Resident Bishop, Iowa Area, The United Methodist Church