Rick Jensen, 2/25/2016 [Archive]

How Joe Biden Saved the GOP's Supreme Court Fight

By Rick Jensen

C-SPAN just ruined President Obama's great Supreme Court Justice nomination adventure.

You know the drill: Since Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell painted "stupid" on his forehead by preemptively stating the Senate should not confirm anyone Obama nominates, the Democrats and their major media affiliates pounced.

The New York Times, Politico, Washington Post, and the L.A. Times all posted stories claiming there was little or no precedent for such election year stonewalling of the judicial nominating process.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was widely quoted as sayinf, "The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away.It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities."

"We've never had vacancy and nomination [for] a year that didn't get voted on," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview as reported by Politico. "Obama's been elected twice, you have to assume if Mitt Romney had been elected he'd be making this nomination."

Notice partisan Reid and hypocrite Patrick Leahy planted the straw man argument of "for a year" into their complaints as Leahy himself has stonewalled Republican nominees.

In addition to being acutely insensitive to the family of Justice Antonin Scalia, it was decidedly stupid of McConnell to make such a statement an hour after it was reported Scalia was found dead. Politically, it gave Democrats the opportunity to play the roles of victim and constitutional heroes, freshly justified to defy the Republicans in every way they choose.

The wise action would have been to politely suggest that any time prior to the funeral would be "too soon" to make any conjectures and, as some Republicans did indicate to the press, the topic can wait.

The President does have the right to nominate Scalia's successor, and the Republicans have the right to reject every nominee.

Fortunately for the Republicans, someone at C-SPAN uncovered a uniquely favorable quote by then-Senator Joe Biden saying pretty much the same thing McConnell said.

In June, 1992, Biden was serving as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

President Bush was in a heated battle for the Presidency against Bill Clinton.There were no vacancies on the bench.Biden wanted to make sure that if a justice were to be hit by a truck before the election Democrats in the Senate were united against any Bush nominee should such an event occur.

Joe pleaded, "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."

The Republicans now have the Vice President to thank for setting the precedent on election-year Supreme Court nominations.

The Vice President tried to "walk back" his comments, suggesting it was a different time and that he also said he would support a Bush nominee under certain conditions.

Too late. He said what he said.

Every Republican asked by the press any question whatsoever about a President Obama nomination to the Supreme Court now has the perfect answer, allowing them to delay any nominations until after the inauguration of the next President without derision.

That answer is, "We agree with Vice President Biden that the nomination process should begin after the next President is inaugurated."

That's it.No more, no less.

Let's see how quickly Mitch McConnell and other Republicans can snatch a loss from these jaws of victory.


©Copyright 2016 Rick Jensen, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rick Jensen is Delaware's award-winning conservative talk show host on WDEL, streaming live on WDEL.com from 1pm — 4pm EST. Contact Rick at rick@wdel.com, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL.

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