When responding to Senate Republicans last week regarding their recommendation that the SCOTUS vacancy be put off until the next president assumes office, Obama, the Constitutional-Scholar-In-Chief, was sure to let us know last week that:
“Historically, this has not been viewed as a question,” Mr. Obama said last week. “There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years — that’s not in the constitutional text.”
Of course, we all know that there is precedent for this; and while not specifically addressed in the Constitution as to not allowing it, it also doesn’t say it has to happen, either.
But, uh oh… Even his own VP, Joe Biden, argued for such an approach.
In June 1992, Mr. Biden, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said there should be a different standard for a Supreme Court vacancy “that would occur in the full throes of an election year.” The president should follow the example of “a majority of his predecessors” and delay naming a replacement, Mr. Biden said. If he goes forward before then, the Senate should wait to consider the nomination.
Wait. What was that? “The president should follow the example of “a majority of his predecessors?” You mean this has happened before and the president’s predecessors set such a precedent?
“Some will criticize such a decision and say that 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. Biden said at the time. “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,” he added, “we will be in deep trouble as an institution.”
Damn right, Joe.