Turns out President Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court is a cousin of Iowa’s Republican governor. They are cousins on the maternal side of Branstad’s family tree. See Governor Terry Branstad’s statement below:
Gov. Branstad trusts Sen. Chuck Grassley and the governor will support the path chosen by Senator Grassley as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Over 20 years ago, at the request of Judge Garland, Gov. Branstad wrote a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley in support of Merrick Garland being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Judge Garland is a second cousin of Gov. Branstad. Gov. Branstad and Judge Garland met for the first time a couple of weeks ago while the governor was in Washington, DC for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting. During their breakfast, Gov. Branstad, Judge Garland and their spouses discussed the family’s Latvian heritage. The Governor has not followed Judge Garland’s judicial record since then and they did not discuss judicial matters at their first and only meeting a few weeks ago.
It is worth noting the federal process significantly differs from the process here in Iowa. In Iowa, the Judicial Nominating Commission nominates candidates for the bench for the governor to appoint. The choice in Iowa is not subject to confirmation in the Iowa Senate.