Harry Reid Confronted With Past Hypocritical Stances on Supreme Court Nominations

March 20, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) was battered with numerous hypocritical statements he's made in the past regarding Supreme Court nominations during a difficult appearance on Meet The Press Sunday morning.

Reid, along with numerous other Democrats, has accused Senate Republicans of obstructionism in refusing to take up hearings for Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court nominee by President Obama to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

Meet The Press host Chuck Todd didn't waste time during their interview, however, immediately playing Reid past clips in refutation of his stance today. In a 2005 speech, back when Republican George W. Bush was president, Reid said, "Nowhere in [the Constitution] does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees a vote."

"And yet 11 years later, you wrote this: 'The Senate's constitutional duty to give a fair and timely hearing and a floor vote to the president's Supreme Court nominees has remained inviolable,'" Todd said. "I guess I'm confused. Which is it? What has changed from 2005, when you said there was nothing in the Constitution that said a vote, to 2016?"

"This is the same thing as you guys talk about the Biden rule. There is no Biden rule," Reid said. "What happened then was worked out. It was an effort to try to get something done."

Reid claimed his career in Congress had been about getting rid of obstruction, saying, "I don't believe in it."

Todd came back with Reid's own "form of obstruction" when Bush was in office, reminding him of his opposition to giving an up-or-down vote to D.C. Court of Appeals nominee Miguel Estrada. Estrada eventually withdrew as a nominee after being successfully filibustered by Senate Democrats.

Reid replied that Estrada received a hearing and had not submitted past legal opinions for public review.

"But I guess I'm going back to, what has changed other than the political party affiliation of the White House?" Todd asked.

"What has changed is you have to look at what has happened. We have never held up a Supreme Court nomination. Since 1900, in a lame duck session, there have been six. They've all been approved," Reid said.

Todd cut over Reid, saying Senate Democrats filibustered Samuel Alito and John Roberts, the two Bush nominees currently on the Supreme Court.

"Where is Alito today? He's on the Supreme Court," Reid said.

"It failed, but you wanted one," Todd said.

"But that's the point. You can draw these extracurricular activities that took place, but look at what's happened," Reid said.

Reid said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) was marching his caucus over a cliff with his stance on Garland.

The Washington Post Fact-Checker blog gave the notion that the Senate has a constitutional responsibility to act on Supreme Court nominations a "Three Pinocchio" rating, writing, "the Senate majority can in effect do what it wants—unless it becomes politically uncomfortable. Democrats who suggest otherwise are simply telling supporters a politically convenient fairy tale."