Joe Biden in 1992: President Should Not Name Supreme Court Nominee During Presidential Election

Following the release of a video clip from June 1992 of then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who now serves as vice president, urging his colleagues to delay hearings on a potential Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year, FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon commented:

“Joe Biden’s statement reveals that the Democrats’ insistence on nominating a justice before the presidential election is about politics, not principle. The Senate is wholly within their rights to refuse to consider an Obama nominee, as then-Senator Biden surely would have agreed with at the time. Senate Republicans must stand strong and pledge that they will not move forward. No votes. No hearings.”

The full video of Biden’s remarks was made available by CSPAN. The relevant clip of the video is available here and is transcribed below.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.): “It is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow or in the next several weeks or resigns at the end of the summer, President [George H.W.] 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. And 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’m sure, Mr. President, after having uttered these words, some, some will criticize such a decision and say it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the Court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it. But that would not be our intention, Mr. President.”

“If that were the course we were to chose as a Senate, to not consider holding hearings until after the election, instead it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season were 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 essential to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me, Mr. President, we will be in deep trouble as an institution.”

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