Biden in 2016: SCOTUS confirmation can happen ‘a few months before a presidential election’ if Senate is involved in pick
Mary Margaret Olohan on September 19, 2020
Former vice president Joe Biden said in 2016 that he would have considered a Supreme Court justice nominee in an election year if the president had consulted the senate on the nominee.
“I would go forward with the confirmation process as chairman even a few months before a presidential election. If the nominee were chosen with the advice and not merely the consent of the Senate just as the constitution requires,” Biden said during a 2016 speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The Democratic presidential nominee said Friday night that it would be improper for the Senate to vote on replacing former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who died Friday, without “full consideration.”
“Let me be clear, the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, said Friday. “This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position the United States Senate must take today.”
As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Biden said in a 1992 speech that when a Supreme Court vacancy occurs in “the full throes of an election year,” the president should follow the example of “a majority of his predecessors” and hold off on making a nomination, the New York Times reported. If the president did make a SCOTUS nomination, Biden said the Senate should wait to hold a vote.
“Some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention,” Biden said in 1992. “It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.”
But Biden said in March 2016 that he would have gone “forward with the confirmation process” if the president had consulted the Senate, and said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans had selectively quoted his 1992 comments to justify not holding a vote on Chief Judge Merrick Garland.
At the time, former President Barack Obama was preparing to nominate Garland to replace former Justice Antonin Scalia, the Times reported.
“There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years — that’s not in the constitutional text,” Obama said at the time, according to the publication.
“So let me set the record straight as they say, I said and I quote ‘if the President consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justice (Anthony) Kennedy and Justice (David) Souter,’” Biden said during the speech at Georgetown University.
Biden said he “made it absolutely clear” that he would have proceeded with a nomination if the Senate had been consulted on the pick.
Biden did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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