Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton appeared during Sunday night’s presidential debate to contradict her prior position on the Senate acting on Supreme Court nominations, according to a new video created by America Rising Squared.
The video first shows Clinton arguing at the debate that the Senate must hold hearings and a vote when President Obama puts forth a nominee to fill the current court vacancy before showing another clip in which she tells an audience of Democrats 10 years earlier the Senate does not necessarily have to do so.
"We must all support President Obama’s right to nominate a successor to Justice [Antonin] Scalia and demand that the Senate hold hearings and a vote on that successor," Clinton said forcefully at Sunday’s debate.
She struck a different tone while serving as a Senator from New York, however.
"I believe this is one of the most important roles [approving the president’s Supreme Court nominees] that the Senate plays," Clinton said during a speech in 2005 at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum. "This, after all, is in the Constitution. We are asked to give advice and consent, or to deny advice and consent."
The Constitution gives the Senate the power of "advice and consent" to approve various appointments made by the president, including for the Supreme Court.
There have been arguments in recent weeks of whether the Senate is obligated or can choose not to provide "advice and consent," which means in practice holding nomination hearings and possibly a formal vote when the president puts forth a nominee.
This issue became a major political topic after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Feb. 13, leaving a critical vacancy on the high bench that could tilt its balance of power.
Scalia was a prominent conservative jurist, and his death leaves the court with an even 4-4 ideological split between conservatives and liberals.
President Obama is expected to nominate a liberal justice, and most Senate Republicans have promised to not hold hearings for any potential nominee.
They argue the ideological trajectory of the court is too important to leave to a lame-duck president and that the next president should fill the vacancy, thus giving the American people a say in the matter with the upcoming 2016 election. Republicans have also said for decades presidents in their final year of office have not nominated someone for the Supreme Court, and Obama should keep this precedent going.
The president and his supporters argue the GOP is failing to fulfill its constitutional duties and should hold hearings at a minimum.
This is not the first time that filling a supreme court opening in a president’s final year has been an issue, and prominent Democrats have advocated in the past for what Senate Republicans are now doing.
For example, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called for blocking all George W. Bush Supreme Court nominations in 2007 further out from the election than now, and then-Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.) did the same during George H. W. Bush’s presidency in 1992.
President Obama has yet to offer a nominee for the Senate.