Grassley rejects Democrats plea to delay judicial hearings until after recess

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking members Sen. Dianne Feinstein (R)(D-CA) and Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) look on before a markup hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 28, 2018, as the vote on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is about to begin. - Kavanaugh's contentious Supreme Court nomination will be put to an initial vote Friday, the day after a dramatic Senate hearing saw the judge furiously fight back against sexual assault allegations recounted in harrowing detail by his accuser. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington (CNN)Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told committee Democrats Monday that he would move forward with two hearings for judicial nominees during the congressional recess despite their objections.

"It's unfair to the nominees, who have already flown to Washington D.C. and made travel arrangements for their families to further delay this hearing," Grassley said in his letter to the committee's top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, pointing to previous postponements for hearings. "And it's unfair to the American people."
"As a result of Democratic delay tactics, there are now 154 current and future judicial vacancies, 63 of which are classified as judicial emergencies," he added. "The judiciary simply cannot afford further obstruction from your side."
The two judicial nomination hearings for the Fourth and Ninth Circuit courts are scheduled for Wednesday and October 24. Congress does not return from recess until after the November 6 midterm elections.
    Grassley's decision comes in response to a letter from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Monday that called for the hearings to be delayed until after recess.
    "We take our constitutional duty to vet nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench very seriously," the letter read. It was signed by all 10 Democrats on the committee.
    "An essential part of the vetting process is an opportunity to question nominees in a public hearing. Holding hearings during a recess, when members cannot attend, fails to meet our constitutional advice-and-consent obligations."
    "We respectfully request these hearing be postponed until after the recess," the letter continued.
      Contention over the scheduling of the hearings comes on the heels of a tense confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by California professor Christine Blasey Ford of sexual assault during a party in the 1980s when they were both in high school.
      Kavanaugh repeatedly denied the allegations against him and he was confirmed to the court earlier this month.