Joe Biden in 1992: Presidents Shouldn’t Make SCOTUS Nominations in Election Year
Joe Biden in 1992: Presidents Shouldn’t Make SCOTUS Nominations in Election Year

After the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a number of Republicans have signaled that they would fight any nomination president Obama makes to fill the vacancy, believing that the candidate should be chosen by the next president in 2017. 

Obama has dismissed the concerns, rhetorically asking Senate Republicans to find a passage in the Constitution that said that presidents couldn’t nominate Supreme Court Justices on election years. 

But in 1992, Vice President Biden spoke in agreement with what Republicans are saying today, and if he were to support any of Obama’s nominations, he would be contradicting his own remarks from over 20 years ago, when he implored president George H.W. Bush to refrain from nominating anyone until after the election on the off-chance that a sitting justice dies in office. 

Once the political season is underway … 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.
— Joe Biden, vice president,  U.S.

“It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, 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,” Biden said on the floor of the Senate. 

Like Republicans today, Biden made a casual threat that the Senate might not cooperate with the president if he were to make a nomination. 

“It is my view that if the president goes the way of [president] 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,” Biden said on the floor of the Senate. 

Biden’s remarks were made on June 25, 1992. 

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