According to a new poll conducted by CNN and the “opinion research” firm ORC International, a majority of Americans believe Barack Obama should nominate a judge to replace the recently deceased Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
Out of 1,001 respondents, 58% want Obama to nominate Scalia’s successor, while an even more resounding 66% said that the Republican-led Senate should hold a hearing when that nomination is offered.
As far as we know, Obama’s pick for the open justice seat is imminent. The New York Times reported his administration has been vetting Jane L. Kelly, a federal appellate court judge based in Iowa who spent much of her career as a public defender. Kelly has already been nominated by Obama once before—in 2013, the Senate unanimously confirmed her appointment to the appellate court bench.
Republicans, of course, have reiterated that they won’t even entertain the thought of considering Obama’s nominee, but conventional wisdom regarding Kelly is that she may be the favorite in the White House specifically to combat the GOP blockade.
Both the Times and the Washington Post point out that when Kelly was approved by the Senate in 2013, she received a glowing endorsement from Chuck Grassley, the Republican senator in her current home state of Iowa. Per the Times, this is what Grassley had to say about Kelly during her 2013 nomination hearing:
The senator read from a handwritten recommendation letter he had received from a retired judge, David R. Hansen, a Republican appointee he counted as an old friend. Mr. Hansen called Judge Kelly a “forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” and a person of “exceptionally keen intellect.”
“I congratulate Ms. Kelly on her accomplishments and wish her well in her duties,” Mr. Grassley said at the time. “I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me.”
Grassley is a uniquely important figure in the saga to replace Scalia because he is currently the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning he alone could decide whether or not Obama’s nominee ever comes before the Senate.
It remains to be seen if Kelly will even be nominated, let alone if her presence will singlehandedly flip the opinion of a key Republican. A safe bet is that it probably won’t. How about the above poll? Will it sway the party? A safe bet is that it probably won’t.