News & Politics

Democrats Struggle to Explain Past Statements on Supreme Court Vacancies

Chuck Schumer

Many of the Democrats who are currently attacking Republicans for vowing to block any Obama Supreme Court nominee have a history of doing the same thing when a Republican was in the White House, and their attempts to explain away their hypocrisy have been creative to say the least.

In 2006, then-Senator Obama joined a filibuster to delay the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, one of President Bush’s nominees to the Supreme Court. This is what the junior senator from Illinois said at the time about the Senate’s role in confirming nominees.

“I will be supporting the filibuster because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values,” Obama said in January 2006. “When you look at his decisions – in particular, during times of war – we need a court that is independent and is going to provide some check on the executive branch,” said Obama.

When asked about this, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the president now regrets his decision to filibuster Alito in 2006, but also maintained that the Republican opposition today is somehow different and unprecedented.

C-SPAN unearthed a clip of Joe Biden in 1992 saying that in the event of a SCOTUS vacancy, President Bush:

“… should not, should not name a nominee until after the November election is completed. The Senate, too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year. It is my view that if the president goes the way of Presidents Fillmore and Johnson and presses an election year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until ever — until after the political campaign season is over.”

On Monday, Biden was singing a very different tune:

“Nearly a quarter century ago, in June 1992, I gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor about a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court,” he said in the statement.

“Some critics say that one excerpt of my speech is evidence that I oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. This is not an accurate description of my views on the subject.”

In other words: who are you going to believe? Biden, or your lying eyes and ears?

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said during a speech at a convention of the American Constitution Society in July 2007 that Democrats should not allow Bush the chance to fill any new Supreme Court vacancies should they open up,  “except in extraordinary circumstances.

“We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer said, according to Politico. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.” During the same speech, Schumer lamented that he hadn’t managed to block Bush’s prior Supreme Court nominations.

When asked by the Daily Caller’s Kerry Picket to comment on his and Biden’s past statements regarding the court, Schumer said, “Look, the simple answer to this, which everyone is saying everywhere is, ‘Do your job.’ It doesn’t matter what anybody said in the past. Do your job. It’s working.”

He claims he had not seen Biden’s exact statement but when pressed about it, he repeated, “We should do our job.”

 The Daily Caller asked Schumer about his past statement about blocking George W. Bush nominees in Bush’s final year and Schumer only repeated, “We should do our job.” The DC asked Schumer if his stance was hypocritical, and he fell silent and left on a Senate train.

Sounds like the train got there just in the nick of time.