March 16, 2016

It didn't take long for Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the kibosh on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee to replace Antonin Scalia.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell started with this, “It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent."

Sen. McConnell immediately used the bogus "Biden rule," to justify their refusal to allow a vote on any Obama Supreme Court nominee. Let's remember, there is no such thing as the Biden rule.

The senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden Rule’ so the American people have a voice in this momentous decision.

“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. “The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this — give the people a voice in filling this vacancy.

McConnell went on to describe what he believes the Biden Rule is, but as many others - including the actual video of his words have observed - McConnell is misrepresenting Joe Biden's words.

On Monday, C-SPAN posted a two-minute clip of then-Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) urging President George H.W. Bush not to nominate a Supreme Court Justice during the 1992 election, should a seat on the court become vacant. Biden, then the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged Bush “not name a nominee until after the November election is completed,” noting that if he did, “the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.”

Conservatives quickly pounced on the clip and used it as evidence to argue that Congressional Republicans are following long-standing precedent in refusing to consider President Obama’s nomination to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia until a new president takes the oath in January of 2017.

But Biden's full speech undermines their claim. Rather than urging his colleagues to deny Bush's potential nominee a hearing, Biden was bemoaning the politicization of the confirmation process -- hence his suggestion of not holding a hearing in the heat of a presidential election -- and what he saw as Bush's refusal to properly consult with the Senate in selecting a nominee. In fact, just 10 minutes after calling for temporary inaction on Bush's candidate, Biden actually promised to consider a moderate Supreme Court nominee.

"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," he said. "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."

And then there's Grassley:

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