McConnell Reiterates to President the American People Will Be Heard, Senate Will Observe ‘Biden Rule’
‘This is something the American people should decide. President Obama still has every right to nominate someone on his way out the door. The Senate also has every right to withhold its consent. That’s what the ‘Biden Rule’ reminds us this election year.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding yesterday’s Supreme Court vacancy discussion with the President:
“The current Senate Democratic Leader once stated that ‘nowhere in [the Constitution] does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees a vote.’ The incoming Senate Democratic Leader did not even wait until the final year of the last President’s term to declare that the Senate should ‘not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.’
“And we all know what Vice President Biden said when he chaired the Judiciary Committee. ‘It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.’
“That’s the essence of the ‘Biden Rule.’ Yesterday the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I personally reiterated to President Obama that we will observe it.
“The American people deserve to be heard on this matter. That’s the fairest and most reasonable approach today. Voters have already begun to choose the next President who in turn will nominate the next Supreme Court justice. It’s an important decision.
“Justice Scalia himself reminded us that setting aside one’s personal views is one of the primary qualifications for a judge. His aim was to follow the Constitution wherever it took him, even if he disagreed politically with the outcome. We saw that when he sided with the constitutional right of protestors to burn the American flag. ‘If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge,’ he said, ‘you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach.’
“I think Americans agree that judges should be fair, impartial arbiters who apply the law and Constitution equally to all and as actually written, not as they wish it were. I think most Americans agree that a judge should be committed to an even-handed interpretation of the law and the Constitution so everyone who walks into a courtroom knows he or she will have a fair shake.
“But there is another view of the role of a judge. Under the view promoted by the current President, the so-called ‘empathy standard,’ judges prioritize their political ideology above the law. The problem with that approach to judging is that empathy is only good in the courtroom if you’re lucky enough to be the person a judge actually has empathy for. It’s not so good if you’re the other person.
“This is something the American people should decide. President Obama still has every right to nominate someone on his way out the door. The Senate also has every right to withhold its consent.
“That’s what the ‘Biden Rule’ reminds us this election year.
“We will appropriately revisit the matter after Americans elect their new President.”
Related Issues: Supreme Court