Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday defended a June 1992 speech in which he advocated putting off a late-term appointment to the Supreme Court should one arise during the last months of President George H.W. Bush's administration, a position seemingly at odds with his criticism of Senate Republicans taking a similar stance today.
Senate Republicans have refused to consider any appointment by President Barack Obama to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The American people should be allowed to weigh in by electing the next president in November, they argue. Democrats say that is obstruction and accuse Republicans of not doing their constitutional duty.
In an op-ed published Thursday by The New York Times, Biden said he feared in 1992 that a nomination just weeks before the political conventions would "create immense political acrimony."
At the time Biden called on Bush, a Republican seeking re-election, to wait until after the election to submit a nomination. If a nomination came before the election, Biden recommended that the Judiciary Committee not hold hearings "until after the political campaign season is over." Bush would lose to Democrat Bill Clinton that fall.
In Thursday's op-ed, Biden asserted: "My purpose was not to obstruct, but to call for two important goals: restoring a more consultative process between the White House and the Senate in filling Supreme Court vacancies, and encouraging the nomination of a consensus candidate who could lower the partisan temperature in the country. It is the same view I hold today."
Biden said he hoped that Republican leaders would reconsider their position. "If they love the Senate as much as I do, they need to act," he wrote.