Past remarks haunt both parties in Supreme Court showdown

Past remarks haunt both parties in Supreme Court showdown
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Groups on the left and right are digging deep into the archives for ammunition in the battle over President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Republicans say Obama's pick won't be considered in a presidential election year and have circulated past statements from Democrats — including Vice President Biden — to press their case.

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Democrats have countered with flashback moments of their own, highlighting past statements that they say reveal GOP hypocrisy on judicial nominees.

The opposition research is a high-stakes endeavor as the parties prepare for a war of public opinion over the Supreme Court that now may be decided at the ballot box in November.

Here’s a look at who said what:

President Obama

The president was reminded of the time he filibustered the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2006 while serving as a senator from Illinois.  

At the time, Obama told ABC News that he supported the filibuster “because he thought Alito was someone what was contrary to core American values, not just liberal values.”

“When you look at his decisions in particular during times of war, we need a court that is independent and is going to provide some check on the executive branch, and he has not shown himself willing to do that repeatedly,” he said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week that it was an “approach” the president now regrets.

Vice President Biden

In a 1992 clip, Biden said then-President George H.W. Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not name a nominee until after the November election.

At the time, there were no vacancies on the Supreme Court.

Biden’s comments have been used as ammunition by Republicans this week.

In a statement following the release of that clip, Biden claimed the remarks were not an “accurate description” of his views.

“While some say that my comments in June 1992 contributed to a more politicized nomination process, they didn't prevent the Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duties, because there was no vacancy at the time,” he said.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFreedom Caucus chair 'optimistic' about ObamaCare repeal deal Gorsuch hearings: A referendum on Originalism and corporate power We must act now and pass the American Health Care Act MORE (D-N.Y.)

Republicans have criticized Schumer for saying in 2007 that he would recommend not confirming any nominee from then-President George W. Bush to the Supreme Court “except in extraordinary circumstances.” 

Schumer fired back last week, saying it’s “misleading and patently false” for Republicans to use his speech to justify “unprecedented obstruction.”

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In September 2005, Hatch reportedly argued in a C-SPAN interview that the Senate should proceed with the confirmation of now-Chief Justice John Roberts because the late William Rehnquist would have wanted the court to open its next term with as many members as possible.

While arguing against filling Scalia's vacancy in a radio interview last week, Hatch said conservative jurist would not be upset if the court continued with an empty seat.

He said the late justice “knows that the court can function with eight members.”

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On Wednesday, the left-leaning public policy group Center for American Progress Action Fund announced it had dug through the congressional record and found at least 24 instances throughout the majority leader's 31 years in the Senate of the Kentucky Republican arguing for a vote on a president’s judicial nominee.

McConnell’s most recent remarks were in July 2008, when he said during a Senate Republican Conference that even with a lame-duck president, “there is a historical standard of fairness when it comes to confirming judicial nominees.”

In a floor speech in 2005, he said it was the Senate’s job to provide advice on nominating Roberts to the Supreme Court.

“In doing so, we should follow basically three principles. Number one, we should treat Judge Roberts with dignity and with respect. Number two, we should have a fair process. And number three, we should complete that process with either an up-or-down vote in time for the court to be at full strength for its new term beginning Oct. 3 of this year,” he said.

On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters there would be no hearing or vote for Obama’s nominee.