Biden defends damaging '92 Supreme Court comments

Biden defends damaging '92 Supreme Court comments
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Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Biden: I regret not being president MORE on Thursday used a New York Times op-ed to explain a 1992 speech Republicans have used to justify blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Biden implored Senate Republicans to reconsider their pledge not to hold hearings or votes on Obama’s court pick, warning that refusing to do so would do grave harm to the integrity of the Senate.

“I hope that Republican leaders will take a step back and think about what they are doing,” he wrote. “If they love the Senate as much as I do, they need to act.”

But Biden’s previous comments have proven damaging to Obama and Democrats’ case for Republicans to consider his replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  

Republicans have frequently cited the longtime Senate Judiciary Committee chairman’s June 1992 speech, in which he said then-President George H.W. Bush should wait until after that year’s presidential election to make a hypothetical Supreme Court nomination. 

“By now everyone is pretty familiar with the Biden Rules. First, the president should exercise restraint, and ‘not name a nominee until after the November election is completed,’” Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyKushner meets with lawmakers about criminal justice reform: report Overnight Finance: Dems seek probe of acting SEC chief | Defense hawks say they won't back short-term funding | Senate seen as start point for Trump infrastructure plan | Dems want more money for IRS Overnight Regulation: Trump administration lifts Obama freeze on federal coal mining MORE (R-Iowa), who helms the judiciary panel, said in a Wednesday floor speech, quoting Biden. “Or, stated differently: The president should let The People decide.”

The vice president has been forced to repeatedly defend his comments. He wrote Thursday that Republicans’ interpretation “distorts the broader meaning” of his speech.

Biden noted that later in his remarks, he said the Senate should consider a nominee if a president puts forth a consensus candidate and consults with members of the upper chamber. 

“My purpose was not to obstruct,” he wrote.

And Biden laid out five examples in which justices were confirmed during the summer on an election year, which filled vacancies before the summer began. 

“That is the case now,” he said. “We still have time to proceed with hearings and a vote before we reach the summer conventions and fall campaign.”