Joe Biden never advocated blocking Supreme Court nominees

Joe Biden never advocated blocking Supreme Court nominees during an election year. Too many people on social media, and worse, too many news organizations keep getting this wrong.

This misconception started February 22, 2016, when C-SPAN posted a video clip from 1992 that shows then-Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying “the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.” Here is the clip posted by C-SPAN:


Conservatives pounced on this quote to show that there is a precedent for denying a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

Biden rejects this position about 10 minutes later in the speech. He states clearly that he would carefully consider a Supreme Court nominee should a vacancy occur.

Biden said, “I believe that so long as the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course both for the White House and for the Senate. Therefore I stand by my position, Mr. President, if the President [George H.W. Bush] consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter. But if he does not, as is the president’s right, then I will oppose his future nominees, as is my right.”

The second video clearly shows that Biden would follow the established Constitutional process for a hypothetical vacancy. Any other conclusion distorts the record and is wrong.


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