Republican senator Chuck Grassley suggested on Friday that one of the reasons there aren’t any Republican women on the Senate Judiciary Committee was because they couldn’t handle the workload. “It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it,” Grassley responded when he was asked why the GOP hasn’t been able to recruit any women to the committee, which he chairs. “My chief of staff of 33 years tells me we’ve tried to recruit women and we couldn’t get the job done,” he added.
No Republican woman has ever served on the Senate Judiciary Committee, while four of the 17 Democratic women currently in the Senate do.
The 85-year-old senator, whose efforts to shield Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from allegations of sexual assault, perjury, and extreme partisan bias paid off on Friday, later tried to walk his comment all the way back and say the opposite. Per the Wall Street Journal, Grassley returned to reporters and said that he meant that neither women nor men wanted to deal with the workload. “We have a hard time getting men on the committee,” he added. “It’s just a lot of work whether you’re a man or a woman — it doesn’t matter.”
Grassley then apparently discovered feminism in the time between his original comment and the inevitable walk back. “On average, any woman in the United States Senate, whether they’re on Judiciary or any other committee, probably works harder than the average man,” he declared.
He then even suggested women should outnumber men on the Supreme Court.
“Probably five [women justices] would be about right,” he proposed.
Republican presidents have nominated two women to the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor, who was confirmed after being nominated by President Reagan in 1981; and Harriet Miers, who President George W. Bush nominated and then withdrew following bipartisan criticism about her qualifications in 2005. The three women currently serving on the court were all nominated by Democratic presidents, and Grassley voted against two of them. President Trump’s two nominees to the Supreme Court and nearly all of the judges and U.S. attorneys that he and the GOP have nominated have been white men.
Just 18 Republican women have ever served in the Senate, including five at present — one of whom, Senator Susan Collins, adhered to the party line and cast the deciding vote on Friday to allow Kavanaugh’s impending confirmation.