Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden declared Friday that late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor should be chosen by the winner of the November election — which, clearly, he hopes will be himself.
But back in 2016, when Republicans declined to confirm an Obama nominee in light of the impending election and split control of the Senate and White House, Biden sang a different tune, insisting that elections should have no bearing on the confirmation of a nominee to fill a vacancy.
Biden in 2016…
In 2016, then-President Barack Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but Senate Republicans refused to consider the nominee.
In a speech at Georgetown University in March 2016, then-Vice President Biden pushed back against the so-called “Biden rule” — established in 1992 in opposition to potential nominations by then-President George H.W. Bush — that was being cited by Senate Republicans as their justification for not moving forward with Obama’s nominee, TheBlaze reported.
“They completely ignore the fact at the time I was speaking of the time of the dangers of nominating an extreme candidate without proper Senate consultation. They completely neglected to quote my unequivocal bottom line,” Biden said of Republicans.
“So let me set the record straight as they say,” he continued. “I said, and I quote, ‘If the president consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selection then nominees may enjoy my support as did Justice Kennedy and Justice Souter.'”
“I made it absolutely clear I would go forward with the confirmation process as chairman, even a few months ahead of a presidential election, if the nominee were chosen with the advise and not merely the consent of the Senate, just as the Constitution requires,” Biden added.
Obama makes a similar reversal
Similarly, Barack Obama claimed on Friday that Republicans in 2016 had “invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in” — which isn’t exactly accurate.
He continued on to assert that, for the sake of consistency and “everyday fairness,” Republicans should now adhere to that “invented” principle and refrain from moving forward with a replacement for Ginsburg until after the elections had been held and settled.
But that, too, is markedly different from what Obama himself said back in 2016. Journalist Caleb Hull shared seven clips of Obama excoriating Republicans for their refusal to consider Garland and insisting that there were no rules, unwritten or otherwise, nor should there be any rules, that interfered with the constitutional process for filling a Supreme Court vacancy, regardless of timing.
“When there is a vacancy on the SCOTUS, the President is to nominate someone, the Senate is to consider that nomination,” Obama says in one of the clips. “There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off-years. That’s not in the Constitution text.”
For purely political purposes, both Biden and Obama have done a complete 180-degree turn on filling a vacancy in an election year. Meanwhile, Republicans argue that it was always about split party control of the Senate and the White House — which isn’t the case this year.