Even before Mr. Obama stated his case, there were signs that Republican unity was wavering on the notion of blocking any nominee out of hand.
SenateJudiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, didn’t rule out confirmation hearings and a vote by his panel on an Obama selection.
“I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision,” Mr. Grassley said Tuesday in a conference call with Iowa radio reporters. “In other words, take it a step at a time.”
Asked whether he thought the controversy over filling the court vacancy might endanger his re-election chances this fall, Mr. Grassley said, “I think I have a responsibility to perform, and I can’t worry about the election. I’ve got to do my job as a senator, whatever it is. And there will be a lot of tough votes between now and the next election.”
His comments appeared to be a softening from a statement shortly after Justice Scalia’s death, when Mr. Grassley said it was “standard practice” not to nominate or confirm candidates for the Supreme Court in an election year.