Biden Tells Republicans to 'Follow Your Conscience' on RBG Replacement
"If I win this election, President Trump's nominee should be withdrawn," Biden said
In remarks made Sunday at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, Biden, 77, elaborated on earlier comments he had made regarding filling the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at her home on Friday due to complications of metastatic cancer.
Biden specifically addressed a recent statement made by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who — just hours after Ginsburg's death was announced — vowed to vote on her replacement.
In 2016, McConnell ultimately blocked then-President Barack Obama's choice for the high court, Merrick Garland, declaring it too close to Election Day to consider a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died that February, 269 days before the election.
At the time, McConnell cited "the Biden rule" as his rationale for blocking Garland, alluding to a speech Biden gave in 1992, as a Delaware Senator. “Once the political season is under way … action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over," said Biden at the time.
On Sunday, Biden said the majority leader "created a new rule" in 2016.
"But he created a new rule, the McConnell rule," Biden said. "Absolutely no hearing, no vote for a nominee in an election year, period, no caveats, and many Republican senators agreed with him."
To vote on a nominee now — mere weeks before the 2020 presidential election — would be "an exercise in raw political power," Biden said. "I don't believe the people of this nation will stand for it."
Biden added that the current administration should hold off on voting for any nominee until after the upcoming presidential election. "If Donald Trump wins the election, then the Senate should move on his selection and weigh the nominee he chooses fairly," he said. "But if I win this election, President Trump's nominee should be withdrawn. As the new president, I should be the one to nominate Justice Ginsburg's successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate."
McConnell, 78, has already locked down key votes from Republican senators regarding Ginsburg's replacement, but he is facing some resistance.
Ginsburg herself expressed a desire not to have her vacancy filled until a new president has taken office, telling her granddaughter, "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," according to NPR.
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At least two Republican senators have already said they won't vote on a nominee before the election.
Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski said in a statement over in the weekend that she "would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election." Murkowski's statement echoed similar concerns voiced by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who in a statement released Saturday said, "Given the proximity of the presidential election ... I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election."
Even if other members of the party break ranks, a confirmation could still happen within the coming months. Though Murkowski and Collins have said they won't vote on a nominee before the election, they've remained quiet about confirming a SCOTUS nominee during a potentially lame-duck session of Congress, prior to a new administration being sworn in.