Flashback: Biden Argued in 1992 that George Bush Should Not Name Supreme Court Nominee Until After Election

February 22, 2016

C-SPAN unearthed footage Monday of then-Sen. Joe Biden arguing in 1992 that President George H.W. Bush should not nominate a Supreme Court justice until after the election that year.

Biden, now the Vice President of the United States, may wish now that he had kept that to himself as President Obama has announced he will nominate a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the coming weeks. Republicans have argued Obama, who will be out of office next January, should allow the next president to pick a nominee.

"It is my view that if a Supreme Court justice resigns tomorrow or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not, and not, name a nominee until after the November election is completed," Biden said. "The Senate, too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year."

Biden said the Senate Judiciary Committee should "seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings" on the nominee if Bush went through with naming one.

"Instead, it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over," Biden said. "That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me we will be in deep trouble as an institution."

Obama's two Supreme Court picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, were confirmed when the Senate was controlled by Democrats. Republicans took back the majority in a rout in the 2014 midterms.