- Joe Biden on Sunday appealed to Senate Republicans in the aftermath of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, asking them to “cool the flames that have been engulfing our country” and not confirm an immediate successor before the November election.
- Biden said that if he wins the November election, President Donald Trump should withdraw his pick. Biden would then nominate a successor to Ginsburg’s seat, with hearings to begin in 2021.
- In appealing to Senate Republicans who could scuttle a vote on a Supreme Court pick, Biden implored them to “follow your conscience.”
- Biden reiterated that he would not release a list of potential Supreme Court justices before the election.
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday appealed to Senate Republicans in the aftermath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, asking them to “cool the flames that have been engulfing our country” and not confirm a successor to her seat before the November election.
In a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Biden laid out several important points for Senate Republicans to consider before they move forward with hearings and a confirmation vote for a potential nominee.
Naming a successor
Biden said that filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court should come after the impending election and not before an election that is less than 2 months away. He made three major statements to support his rationale.
- “If President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act until after the American people select their next president, their next Congress, and their next Senate.”
- “If Donald Trump wins, then the Senate should move on his selection and weigh the nomination that he chooses fairly.”
- “If I win this election, then President Trump’s nominee should be withdrawn and, as the new president, I should be the one to nominate Justice Ginsburg’s successor.”
The “Biden Rule”
Biden disputed Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s contention that he advanced the concept that Supreme Court nominations could not move forward during an election year. In 2016, McConnell blocked then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell made the decision on the grounds that the next president should make the decision if a vacancy occurred in an election year.
“Our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy,” McConnell said at the time regarding the Democratic president’s nomination, according to The New York Times.
Now that the White House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans, McConnell wants to move ahead with a nomination process to fill Ginsburg’s seat in an election year. Biden laid out a forceful response in Sunday’s speech.
“Majority Leader McConnell made up a rule based on the fiction that I somehow believed that there should be no nomination to the court in an election year. It’s ridiculous. The only rule I’ve ever followed related to the Supreme Court nomination was the constitution’s obligation for senators to provide their advice and consent to a president’s nomination.”
- “He created a new rule…the McConnell rule, with absolutely no hearing and no vote for a nominee in an election year. Period. No caveats. Many Republican senators agreed with him, including then-Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley and the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.”
Appeal to Republicans who can move the vote
A big theme of Biden’s presidential campaign has been to reach out to political independents and disaffected Republicans. In his speech, he extended an olive branch to GOP moderates and institutionalist Republicans in the Senate who could possibly scuttle a Supreme Court nomination. Those senators include Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, along with Mitt Romney of Utah. Both Collins and Murkowski have stated that they oppose voting on a nominee before the election, but have not indicated how they would feel about voting during a lame-duck session before the new Senate session starts in January.
Supreme Court lists
Biden has said he is opposed to listing potential Supreme Court nominees and will not do so before the election, unlike Trump, who credited his lists with energizing grassroots support in his 2016 campaign. Biden has committed to nominating an African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court, which would be a historic selection, but he has never named a specific jurist.
Less than two weeks ago, Trump announced 20 potential picks for the Supreme Court.
Biden said such lists could compromise the decision making of judges under consideration “or it could create the perception of influence.” He also said he feels like anyone on the list would be under attack for months without being able to respond. Lastly, Biden said that he wants to follow the Constitution.
- “I will make my choice for the Supreme Court not based on a partisan election campaign but on what prior Democratic and Republican presidents have done…Only after consulting with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in seeking their advice and asking for their consent.”
Biden, who moved Ginsburg’s nomination through the Senate as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1993, also paid tribute to her indelible legacy, heralding her legal acumen and litany of accomplishments.
“She did as much to advance the Constitutional rights, opportunities, and justice for women as Justice [Thurgood] Marshall did for African Americans,” he said. “She was a trailblazer and a role model. She was a source for hope and a powerful voice.”