Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley held his ground on the Senate floor on Monday, putting forth the words of former senator and current Vice President Joe Biden — what Grassley called the “Biden Rules” — as support for the legislative body’s decision to block any replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia until after the 2016 election.
Grassley’s floor statement came immediately after Minority Leader Harry Reid argued that respect for the Constitution demanded that the Senate not block the nominee. In 1992, then-Senator Biden argued that if a seat on the Court opened up, then “what is fair to the nominee and is central to the process” would be for President George H.W. Bush to postpone nominating a replacement until after the 1992 election. As Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Biden occupied the same position now held by Grassley.
Emphasizing Biden’s honesty and sincerity, the Iowa senator put forth eight “Biden Rules” to guide the Senate during the nomination process.
“The Biden Rules recognize ‘the framers intended the Senate to take the broadest view of its constitutional responsibility.
The Biden Rules recognize the wisdom of those presidents – including another lawyer and former state lawmaker from Illinois — who exercised restraint by not submitting a Supreme Court nomination before The People had spoken.
The Biden Rules recognize the court can operate smoothly with eight members for some time, and ‘the cost of such a result, the need to re-argue three or four cases that will divide the Justices four to four, are quite minor compared to the cost that a nominee, the President, the Senate, and the Nation would have to pay for what assuredly would be a bitter fight.’
The Biden Rules recognize that under these circumstances, ‘[the President] should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not name a nominee until after the November election is completed.’
The Biden Rules recognize that under these circumstances, ‘[It does not] matter how good a person is nominated by the President.’
The Biden Rules recognize that ‘once the political season is under way … action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and is central to the process.’
The Biden Rules recognize that ‘Senate consideration of a nominee under these circumstances is not fair to the President, to the nominee, or to the Senate itself.’
The Biden Rules recognize that under these circumstances, ‘the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.’”
Grassley closed his statement by saying: “If the President of the United States insists on submitting a nominee under these circumstances, Senator Biden, my friend from Delaware, the man who sat at a desk across the aisle and at the back of this Chamber for more than 35 years, knows what the Senate should do.”
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