WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid defended past remarks made by Vice President Joe Biden and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in favor of blocking Supreme Court nominees during a president’s final year.
“Remember Sen. Schumer laid out very clearly we have not held up any nomination. This was in June. There was nobody even being considered at the time. They’re rushing for something that is not going to help them at all. We have time and time again—Let’s go back to 1988—the last year of the Reagan administration. What did we do? We had a hearing on Kennedy and he was approved unanimously,” Reid said. “So this is something that is untoward.”
Biden, then-senator and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in 1992, “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,” He added, “That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process.”
Reid responded to Biden’s previous statement saying, “Of course people make statements about a lot of things. But Joe Biden — now understand, Joe made a few statements over the years about a lot of things. But in this one instance, it really didn’t mean a thing, because nothing was pending.”
When asked if he thought Biden made a mistake by making his 1992 remarks, Reid replied, “No. He has a right to speak. It didn’t make a difference. There was nothing pending.”
Biden said in a statement of his prior remarks on Monday, “Nearly a quarter century ago, in June 1992, I gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor about a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court.”
“Some critics say that one excerpt of my speech is evidence that I oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. This is not an accurate description of my views on the subject.”