Here's the Times headline from Monday morning:
Here's how the headline should have more accurately read:
debate on whether the Senate has the legal and moral right to refuse to
consider a Supreme Court Nominee had been simmering since the death of
Justice Scalia last week. Immediately after a statement by Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell saying that the Senate would not consider his
nomination, there was been push back. It is the Judicial Committee that
would actually be the gatekeeper, as their decision made by the
Republican majority to refuse to take up a given nomination will simply
kill the nomination.
As this was simmering with many
Republican Senators weighing in on the need to at the very least hold
committee hearings over a Presidential nominee, this N.Y. Times story
linked above broke. In the current linked article they do describe the
last part of Biden's 1992 speech on the floor of the senate Since I
did go on the video, and immediately noted that Biden has said that as
leader of the Judiciary Committee he would in fact hold hearings on a
nominee that was a moderate.
It is this part that should
have been the headline in yesterday's article; rather the one that claimed that Biden echoed the current Republicans who
are refusing to consider any Obama nominee This printed headline, which is
what was tweeted across the country, very well could have provided
cover for the Republican Judiciary Committee to send this official letter that they would not hold hearings on any Obama nominee, no matter how moderate. Biden's actual words were in a conciliatory tone, from the video in the article that began with"
" It is my view that if there is a vacancy (after July 1) now or later in the summer President (George W.) Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not name a nominee until after the presidential election"
This part although the time frame of absence of a Justice in his hypothetical case is half of what the current vacancy would entail, does present the case for the Senate to refuse consideration But, unlike the current Republicans, Biden soften his opinion with "in my view" and the "President could consider" not that that he, his committee or party would refuse to hold hearing for a nominee.
Towards the end, there is this part, that did not appear in the headline, and was only on a side bar of the online version. Biden closed with these words transcribed verbatim:
"...as long as the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the right course for both the White House and the Senate, therefor I stand by my position".. if the President consults and cooperates with the Senate, or moderates his selection absent consultation, then his Justices may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter. But if he does not, as is the President's right, then I will oppose his future nominees, as is my right.
Far from agreeing that the Senate should, as the headline implied, follow his lead in their absolute refusal to consider any nomination, Biden had said that he would, in fact, do exactly what the current Democrat party is suggesting, put forward a moderate nominee.
The Times headline
set the tone for the balance of their article, and as such was a distortion of this most important statement by the Senator, now Vice
President . What this Republican refusal will ultimately mean depends
on the outcome of the Presidential election. However, it sets a
precedent that could continue even if if a Democrat becomes President; as
this boycott could continue if his/her party lacks a the super-majority
(which is probable) to overcome this intransigence of the one branch
that, at least ideally, transcends partisanship.