So Joe Biden’s latest awkward flip-flop occurred this week, when he reversed a June commitment to identify potential Supreme Court nominees should he become president.
With Supreme Court vacancies suddenly occupying center stage in the presidential campaign upon the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden unconvincingly rationalized, “Anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances will be subject to unrelenting political attacks, because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest, and she would endure those attacks for months on end without being able to defend herself.”
That’s odd, since the dozens of judges named by President Trump as potential nominees since his 2016 campaign have somehow escaped that harrowing fate, even with a mainstream media heavily invested in harassing conservatives and defeating President Trump in both campaigns.
Perhaps Biden somehow believes that left-leaning media would treat his potential nominees with less deference than Trump’s, but if that’s the case then perhaps he really is as cognitively “shot” as Trump keeps suggesting.
At any rate, Biden’s new stance contradicts his statement in June that, “We are putting together a list of African-American women who are qualified and have the experience to be in the court, and I am not going to release that until we go further down the line in vetting them as well.”
Never mind, apparently.
More generally, Biden’s campaign theme of returning “unity” and “normalcy” to the nation is an odd one, especially as it relates to judicial nominations.
After all, Biden is the man who, alongside the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D – Massachusetts) unleashed what has become take-no-prisoners judicial confirmation warfare in 1987 over Judge Robert Bork. Few stunts in modern political history assaulted our collective sense of “unity” and “normalcy” as that, yet Biden now asks Americans to accept that he’ll restore those ideals to American politics generally and the judicial confirmation process more specifically?
That ship sailed in 1987, Joe, with you playing First Mate to Ted Kennedy’s Captain.
Lest one deem that unfair or hyperbolic, just consider the objective record.
Consider that in 1986, archconservative Antonin Scalia was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a 98-0 vote, which included Senator Joe Biden. One year later, however, with the Senate now controlled by Democrats, Biden and Kennedy commenced their judicial warfare campaign that endures to this day by slurring the reputation of Judge Bork, whose intellect and professional achievements closely paralleled Scalia’s.
Judge Bork perfectly captured Biden’s profile in cowardice in his masterpiece “The Tempting of America”:
Senator Biden told the Philadelphia Inquirer in November 1986, “Say the administration sends up Bork and after our investigation he looks a lot like another Scalia, I’d have to vote on him and if the groups tear me apart, that’s the medicine I’ll have to take, I’m not Ted Kennedy.” My record was in fact almost identical to Scalia’s. We voted the same way on the Court of Appeals 98 percent of the time, and on the one major case where we differed we did so because I favored a First Amendment defense in a libel action. But seven days after my nomination, Biden was visited by representatives of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Alliance for Justice, the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund, and he at once stated that he would oppose the nomination and would lead the fight in the Senate.
Thus, honoring one’s commitments and maintaining a sense of institutional “normalcy” certainly aren’t among Biden’s distinguishing characteristics through the decades.
Four years later, Biden bungled the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, and decades later contradicted himself again by renouncing his position at that time and prostrating himself to Anita Hill.
In 1992, Biden issued what became known as the “Biden Rule” amid a presidential campaign, which he has also now come to regret. Namely, Biden asserted that “divided government” with the White House and Senate controlled by different parties prevented a “national consensus” necessary to confirm Supreme Court nominees should vacancies arise.
Today, of course, no such “divided government” exists. Quite the contrary, President Trump with his own list of potential nominees won the White House, and in 2018 Republicans extended their Senate majority on the specific promise of confirming President Trump’s nominees. Indeed, voter disgust at how Democrats treated Brett Kavanaugh played a central role in that 2018 election.
Biden’s real motivation, of course, is transparent.
He must present himself as a “moderate” to the American electorate, even as the fanatical left increasingly dominates his party and populates his voting base. But actually identifying potential Supreme Court nominees would immediately expose the falsity of that image, since each person’s radical and objectionable record would be open to inspection.
President Trump, in contrast, confidently advertises his list of textualist judges. He won in 2016 on that basis, and Biden the illusory “uniter” understands that the issue may once again prove pivotal this year.
Reprinted with Permission from - Center for Individual Freedom by - Timothy H. Lee