The first question of the first presidential debate—quite the contentious one—had to do with the hot topic on everyone’s mind: the Supreme Court. Moderator Chris Wallace asked, “Why are you right in the argument you make and your opponent wrong?” Considering Trump’s case is a matter of following a Constitutional duty on judicial nominees, it’s hard to argue with that one, though opponents are likely to only get fiercer. Through it all, the stakes could not be higher.
“I will tell you very simply,” Trump said. “We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate, we have the White House, and we have a phenomenal nominee respected by all…”
The American people spoke about nominating and confirming justices for the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a constitutional duty for the president to nominate judicial picks, and for the Senate to advise and consent. In the instance of President Obama nominating Judge Merrick Garland in March 2016, the Republican controlled Senate decided not to move forward with the nomination, choosing that particular path in fulfilling their role.
Trump offered during the debate that “the Democrats, they wouldn’t even think about not doing it. The only difference is they’d try and do it faster.”
Trump repeatedly had to remind that Democrats are not in power. Apparently he needs to keep doing so. Maybe at one point it’ll actually stick? Biden especially doesn’t get this. On numerous instances he’s said something along the line of “nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway.” The non-partisan FactCheck.org, has dedicated multiple articles to correcting these “False and Exaggerated” claims. Biden’s also said that “it defies every precedent.”
Meanwhile, in 1992 then Senator Biden made a speech known as “Biden Rule,” which touched upon delaying a hypothetical nomination until the election in the case of divided government.
United States history also corrects Biden. In the fifteen times the president had the chance to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, he’s done so eight times when he and the Senate are of the same party. Seven were confirmed. In the seven nominations made under a divided government, only two were confirmed.
As they are not in the majority, and can’t seem to accept history or the Constitution, Senate Democrats have turned to petty means. It’s like we’re dealing with children throwing tantrums. “The Republican majority will have stolen two Supreme Court seats,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer lamented. He also claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “has defiled the Senate” and “may very well destroy it.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have threatened to pack the Supreme Court, as well as limit the tenure of justices to 18 years before forcing them to the lower courts. Joe Biden unhelpfully refuses to take a stance.
Wallace noted during the debate that Biden has “refused in the past to talk about it,” asking “are you willing to tell the American tonight whether or not you will support either ending the filibuster or packing the court?”
Biden instead placed the onus on Senate Democrats, who have made their position abundantly clear. “Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re voting now. Vote and let your Senators know strongly how you feel,” he offered.
Do Biden and Senate Democrats agree? Are they on the same page? The former vice-president emphasized three times that “I am the Democratic Party.” What is he waiting for then? Biden also emphasized that voters should decide who they elect to the White House and the Senate, in order for them to have a say in this judicial nominee, multiple times. To truly have an informed electorate, Biden must explain himself.
Trump echoed Wallace’s questions about Biden’s position on court packing, and called on him to release his list of Supreme Court nominees, how Biden can also inform potential voters. Initially, Biden only emphasized his call for the American people to vote, then threw out such “I’m not going to answer the question,” asked “will you shut up, man?” and said the exchange was “so un-Presidential.”
And let’s not forget how Biden presided over one of the most infamous, cruel, and unfair confirmation hearings. Robert Bork, was nominated for and ultimately denied a seat on the Supreme Court in 1987. Biden viciously smeared Bork’s originalist judicial philosophy so memorably, “Borking” is in the dictionary.
Regardless, the process is moving forward, and with any hope will not be a repeat of Bork’s confirmation, or the most recent one of Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Amy Coney Barrett has met with or is planning to meet with several senators, Republicans and Democrats, including Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has said hearings will start October 12.