“You know better.”
Those were the reprimanding words spoken by former Vice President Joe Biden to Republican senators who opposed Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s “lame duck” nominee to the Supreme Court.
As President of the Senate, it was well within Biden’s rights to criticize the actions taken by certain members of Congress. However, it is a series of different remarks made by Biden earlier in his career that has his opponents shouting hypocrite.
Here is then-Sen. Biden in 1992 urging his colleagues to reject Supreme Court nominees until after the election season ends.
By Biden’s own admission, in the case of a sitting U.S. president nominating a person to fill a vacant Court seat, the Senate should “seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.”
In 2016, heeding their former colleague’s advice, Republicans did just that – they withheld confirmation hearings on Judge Garland. This is a practice that both Republicans and Democrats have advocated for at different times throughout our country’s history.
So what is all the hoopla about?
Much of the opposition and obstruction being shown by Senate Democrats toward Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, is due to their resentment and frustration at the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Republicans know it, Democrats know it and, most importantly, the American people know it. You don’t have to be an educated voter to watch the clip of 1992 Joe Biden, then compare it to a clip of any Democrat opposing Gorsuch today, to realize that partisan politics is at play in this debate.
Elie Mystal, editor at Above the Law, a news website about law, law schools, and the legal profession, writes that “Gorsuch isn’t really the issue here. The issue is the process.” Mystal goes on to concede that Democrat opposition is really “about Merrick Garland, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump, or it’s about nothing at all.”
If this is the case, why even hold a presidential election? If one party is willing to obstruct judicial nominations simply out of spite for the other party, where does it end?
The American people were given a choice in 2016: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Left-leaning news magazine The Nation, described the Supreme Court as “the most important issue in the 2016 election.”
Similarly, evangelist Franklin Graham warned fellow conservatives that because the future of the Supreme Court hung in the balance, the 2016 election was “the most important election of our lifetime.”
During the second presidential debate, Clinton and Trump each described what qualities they would look for when deciding who to nominate to the Supreme Court.
According to NBC News exit polling, seven in 10 voters nationwide said Supreme Court appointments were either the “most important factor” or “an important factor” in their decision about which presidential candidate to support.
Yet, despite the advanced notice Americans received, many Democrats are still behaving as if Judge Gorsuch is someone that the majority of the American people disapprove of, even going so far as to say they will filibuster him for not being “mainstream.”
Ironically, more voters say they are in favor of the Senate confirming Gorsuch to the Supreme Court than are opposed. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 44 percent of Americans favor Gorsuch, while only 23 percent oppose him.
It’s evident that Senate Democrats are walking a fine line with their vote for, or against, Gorsuch. But that is the line set by their constituents – whether it be atheists, leftists or moderates. Perhaps looking at the results of the 2016 presidential election can give them a better insight into the mood of the country.
In his opening statement, Judge Gorsuch, under oath, made a pledge to senators and the American people that he would “be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of our great nation.”
Forget “originalist,” “pragmatist” or any other type of Constitutional interpreter. This past November, American voters let their voices be heard. Loudly. They voted for someone who they knew would appoint a judge “very much in the mold of Justice Scalia.” They voted for someone who would uphold the laws of our country.
If Democrats try to stifle the voice of these voters, they should be ready to have that decision haunt them in 2018.