I never thought I’d say it before, but Vice President Joe Biden is exactly right about Supreme Court nominations.
In 1992, then-Senator Biden gave a stirring and eloquent speech on the Senate floor that pinpoints exactly why we should delay selecting Justice Scalia’s replacement until after the election, to ensure that the voice of the American people is heard on this lifetime appointment to the highest Court in the land.
Here’s what he said:
[I]t 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.
I couldn’t have said it better myself, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is taking him up on his recommendation, announcing today that it will refuse to hold hearings on any Supreme Court nomination until after the next President takes office.
As I’ve detailed previously, President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senate Minority Leader Reid, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Schumer, and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Leahy have all staunchly defended this position and the Senate’s constitutional role in the confirmation process in the past and history itself stands firmly on the side of not confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year.
At the ACLJ, we’re demanding that our next President be the one to select the next Supreme Court justice and thus allow the American people to have a voice. If you agree, sign our petition today.