Vice President Joe Biden has been a reliable talking point for Senate Republicans when it comes to confirming judges to the federal bench.
This is especially so regarding Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was picked by President Barack Obama to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who died on February 13.
“The Biden Rule”
So far, Senate Republicans have held firm to their declaration that no Supreme Court nominee should be named by Obama, since this is an election year. As precedence, they point to statements made by Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992. Back then, Biden declared that if a vacancy were to occur, then-President George H.W. Bush should refrain from naming a nominee.
“It is my view that if a Supreme Court judge resigns tomorrow or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of 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 Republican Twitter page posted the 1992 video as well.
— Senate Republicans (@Senate_GOPs) March 24, 2016
And in 2005, he invoked the same principle. PJMedia reports that the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) gave a lengthy speech that set forth the same principles.
“I say the Constitution itself does not say that each nominee is entitled to an up or down vote. The Constitution doesn’t say that, it doesn’t even say that there has to be a vote with respect to the giving of its consent. The Senate can refuse to confirm a nominee simply by saying nothing and doing nothing.”
Two days later, Biden gave a 90-minute speech that agreed with Byrd’s sentiments about the Senate’s role in confirming federal judges.
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) March 24, 2016
Biden: “There is no Biden Rule”
In a speech at Georgetown Law Center, Biden fired back at Republicans who have been invoking his name as justification for not taking up Garland’s nomination (see full video below).
Calling Garland “eminently qualified,” Biden declared that “no one, no one, questioned his integrity,” and called for the Senate to hold hearings.
Then, he addressed the so-called “Biden Rule.”
“My friend Mitch McConnell and other Republicans today have been quoting selectively from remarks that I made in an attempt to justify refusing Chief Judge Garland a fair hearing and a vote on the floor of the Senate. They completely ignore the fact that at the time, I was speaking of the dangers of nominating an extreme candidate without proper Senate consultation…So now you hear all this talk about the ‘Biden Rule.’ It’s frankly ridiculous. There is no ‘Biden Rule,’ it doesn’t exist. There’s only one rule I ever followed in the Judiciary Committee: that was the Constitution’s clear rule of ‘advice and consent’.”
Joe Biden on Supreme Court nomination: There is no 'Biden rule' https://t.co/UKL9cq9ehn
— Washington DC News (@washdcnews) March 24, 2016
A CNN report stated that what Biden was discussing in his 1992 speech was a “hypothetical” vacancy.
“Supporters of Biden point to the fact that later in the same speech the then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman pledged to consider a nominee ‘if the President consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selection absent consultation.'”
Garland: Victim of the “Biden Rule”?
Garland, 63, was nominated by Obama on March 16 at an announcement in the White House Rose Garden. As quoted by NPR, Obama declared that “the one name that has come up repeatedly — from Republicans and Democrats alike — is Merrick Garland.”
What do you think? Is there a “Biden Rule,” or should Judge Garland be given hearings by the U.S. Senate?
[Photo by Win McNames/Getty Images]