Today, the White House is trotting out Vice President Joe Biden to meet with local reporters and attack Republicans for not moving forward on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
But what the Vice President is unlikely to mention is his now-famous “Biden Rule” – the strong position he laid out as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992 that the Senate should not move forward with a Supreme Court nomination in the heat of a presidential campaign – the exact position of the Senate GOP today:
“As a result, it is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not–and not–name a nominee until after the November election is completed.
The Senate, too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year. It is my view that if the President goes the way of Presidents Fillmore and Johnson and presses an election-year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.
I sadly predict, Mr. President, that this is going to be one of the bitterest, dirtiest, Presidential campaigns we will have seen in modern times.
I am sure, Mr. President, after having uttered these words some will criticize such a decision and say it was nothing more than an attempt to save the seat on the Court in the hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention, Mr. President, if that were the course to choose in the Senate to not consider holding hearings until after the election. Instead, it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and is central to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me, Mr. President, we will be in deep trouble as an institution.”
The revelation of these comments in February drew widespread attention, with The New York Times saying it “severely undercut,” the arguments of the Obama administration, while Vox wrote that the remarks were “exactly the argument that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies have been making.”
While the Vice President will repeat the standard White House talking points today, insincerity comes with every word. He knows the Republicans are on the right side of this issue in wanting to give the American people a chance to voice their opinion on this Supreme Court vacancy because they’re actually just following the “Biden Rule.”