Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post Fact Checker took a look at Democrats’ claims that the Senate shouldn’t consider President Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee until after the midterm elections in November so that the voters could be heard on this matter.

On June 27, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the Republicans hypocrites for wanting to move swiftly on the nomination:

“Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016: not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Senator [Mitch] McConnell would tell anyone who listened that the Senate had the right to advise and consent. And that was every bit as important as the president’s right to nominate. Millions of people are just months away from determining the Senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president’s nominee. And their voices deserve to be heard now, as Leader McConnell thought they should deserved to be heard then. Anything but that would be the absolute height of hypocrisy. People from all across America should realize that their rights and opportunities are threatened. Americans should make their voices heard loudly, clearly and consistently. Americans should make it clear that they will not tolerate a nominee chosen from President Trump’s pre-ordained list, selected by powerful special interests, who will reverse the progress we’ve made over the decades.”

The Fact Checker reported that the Republican position was based on the fact that it was a presidential election year and backs that up with a statement Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made on ABC’s “This Week” on March 20, 2016:

“The American people are in the middle of choosing who the next president is going to be. And that next president ought to have this appointment, which will affect the Supreme Court, for probably a quarter of a century.”

McConnell cited  the so-called “Biden rule,” which referred to a June 25, 1992, speech that then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) gave on the Senate floor in which he mentioned how bitter and heated Supreme Court nominations in presidential election years have been in the past.

“Can our Supreme Court nomination and confirmation processes, so racked by discord and bitterness, be repaired in a Presidential election year? History teaches us that this is extremely unlikely. Some of our Nation’s most bitter and heated confirmation fights have come in Presidential election years. The bruising confirmation fight over Roger Taney’s nomination in 1836; the Senate’s refusal to confirm four nominations by President Tyler in 1844; the single vote rejections of nominees Badger and Black by lameduck Presidents Fillmore and Buchanan, in the mid-19th century; and the narrow approvals of Justices Lamar and Fuller in 1888 are just some examples of these fights in the 19th century.”

Biden later tried to distance himself from those remarks, saying that he was only referring to an “extreme candidate” without proper consultation with the Senate.

“I made it absolutely clear that I would go forward with the confirmation process, as chairman — even a few months before a presidential election — if the nominee were chosen with the advice, and not merely the consent, of the Senate — just as the Constitution requires,” Biden said in 2016. “There is no Biden rule. It doesn’t exist.”

In 2007 Schumer tried to suggest that no more nominees should be confirmed for the rest of George W. Bush’s term because the Democrats were “duped” by the confirmation testimony of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, even though Bush’s term still had about 18 months left:

“For the rest of this President’s term and if there is another Republican elected with the same selection criteria let me say this: We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts; or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito. Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least: I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee EXCEPT in extraordinary circumstances.”

The Fact Checker’s summed it up:

Bottom line: it’s pretty clear the debate in 2016 revolved around nominations made in a presidential election year. Democrats are simply spinning a false narrative.

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