Biden defends damaging '92 Supreme Court comments

Biden defends damaging '92 Supreme Court comments
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Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenThe Hill's 12:30 Report Pence talks regularly to Biden, Cheney: report Biden moving toward 2020 presidential run: report 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.

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“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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks, background checks Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks 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.”