Vice President Joe Biden criticized Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for using a speech he made in 1992 to justify waiting to confirm the next Supreme Court nominee until after President Obama is out of office.
In a speech at Georgetown Law School on Thursday, Biden touted his record, saying that he was “responsible for eight justices and nine total nominees,” which he claimed is more than “anyone alive.”
“There is no Biden rule. It doesn’t exist,” Biden said. “There is only one rule I ever followed in the Judiciary Committee. That was the Constitution’s clear rule of advice and consent.”
Biden referenced a speech McConnell made on the Senate floor on March 16, in which he claimed that he was invoking the “Biden Rule,” and quoted Biden’s words from 1992, to counter filling the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“As Chairman Grassley and I declared weeks ago, and reiterated personally to President Obama, the Senate will continue to observe the Biden Rule so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” McConnell said.
The speech that created the “Biden Rule” referenced by McConnell was one Biden made on the Senate floor on June 25, 1992, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and George H. W. Bush was president.
“Given the unusual rancor that prevailed in the [Clarence] Thomas nomination, the need for some serious reevaluation of the nomination and confirmation process, and the overall level of bitterness that sadly infects our political system and this presidential campaign already, it is my view that the prospects for anything but conflagration with respect to a Supreme Court nomination this year are remote at best,” Biden said.
Politifact noted that at the time of Biden’s speech, there was no Supreme Court vacancy to fill and no nominee to consider. However, Biden took to the Senate floor to “urge delay if a vacancy did appear,” and rather than arguing for a delay until the next president was in office, he argued that the nomination process should be “put off until after the election, which was on Nov. 3, 1992.”
“They completely ignore the fact at the time I was speaking of the time of the dangers of nominating an extreme candidate without proper senate consultation,” Biden said on Thursday. “I made it absolutely clear I would go forward with the confirmation process as chairman, even a few months ahead of a presidential election.”