Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday urged Senate Republicans to hold a confirmation vote on Merrick Garland, warning of “the incredibly dangerous precedent” the upper chamber would set if it continues to block the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation through the remainder of Barack Obama’s presidency.
“Give Merrick Garland a vote. Look, folks, you don’t have to — my friends in the Senate, they don’t have to support Merrick Garland,” Biden said, speaking to reporters on the steps of the House with a contingent of House and Senate Democrats behind him. “You don’t have to support the chief judge of the [D.C.] Circuit. Vote no, but give him a vote.”
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Obama nominated Garland, the centrist chief judge of the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, in March following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Senate Republicans, however, have refused to hold hearings or a vote on Garland’s confirmation, saying that the vacancy should not be addressed until 2017, when a new president takes office.
“We’re setting an incredibly dangerous precedent in the institution that I love, that I served in 36 years,” Biden warned. “I’m prouder of being in the Senate over that time than anything I’ve done in my whole life, but don’t — don’t set this dangerous precedent.”
Since Obama nominated Garland to replace Scalia, 176 days have elapsed. Garland on Thursday met privately with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, to — according to a spokeswoman — assure him that Democrats are still pushing for his confirmation this year.
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) signaled late last month during Congress’ summer recess that Senate Republicans could relent if enough senators push for a hearing after the November election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, however, threw cold water on any idea that Garland will have …