McConnell Says Senate Will Adopt Joe Biden’s Rule and Not Consider Obama’s Nominee

By Staff | March 16, 2016 | 6:02pm EDT
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( Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today that the Republican-controlled Senate will act on the informal rule Vice President Joe Biden advocated when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and decline to take up President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee during the current election season.

This morning Obama announced that he was nominating Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland is currently the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

McConnell said on the Senate floor after Obama made his announcement that he and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley had personally told the president that they would follow “Biden’s Rule” in this matter.

“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,” said McConnell.

In his floor speech, McConnell read passages from a speech Biden gave on the Senate floor on June 25, 1992.

“It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over,” McConnell quoted Biden as saying. “That is what is fair to the nominee and is central to the process.”

“Others may fret that this approach would leave the Court with only eight members for some time,” McConnell quoted Biden as saying, “but as I see it…the cost of such a result--the need to reargue three or four cases that will divide the Justices four to four-are quite minor compared to the cost that a nominee, the President, the Senate, and the Nation would have to pay for what would assuredly be a bitter fight, no matter how good a person is nominated by the President.”’

McConnell argued that Obama had nominated Garland precisely for the purpose of politicizing the nomination.

“It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election--which is the type of thing then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Biden was concerned about—the exact thing Chairman Biden was concerned about,” said McConnell.

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