After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on Saturday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was quick to denounce her Republican counterparts as enemies of the Constitution for vowing to oppose whomever President Obama nominates.
But Obama struck a much different tone as a senator in 2006 during the confirmation hearings for Bush nominee Samuel Alito.
“Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes,” Warren said in a Saturday Facebook post. She later claimed that Republicans’ opposition to Obama’s eventual nominee was “a threat to our democracy itself.”
In contrast to Warren’s argument now, then-Senator Obama categorically rejected the argument that the nomination debate ended when President Bush “won the election.” During Alito’s confirmation hearings, Obama took the senate floor to say: “There are some who believe that the President, having won the election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee…that once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question as to whether the judge should be confirmed. I disagree with this view.”
Sen. Warren also claimed that Republican opposition to President Obama’s nominee “would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself. It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.”Sen. Harry Reid made the same argument on Saturday and said that if Republicans don’t approve Obama’s nominee it “would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.” And yet as senator, Obama rejected that argument in 2006 as well. Obama stated that “I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe it calls for meaningful advice and consent and that includes an examination of a judge’s philosophy, ideology, and record.” After citing several Alito rulings he disagreed with, Senator Obama closed his floor statement by promising that “I will vote no and urge my colleagues to vote no on this confirmation.”
During his time in the Senate, Barack Obama voted against both of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.