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How Biden killed John Roberts’s nomination in 1992

Roundup
tags: Supreme Court, Scalia, SCOTUS, Joe Biden



Marc Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post on foreign and domestic policy and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

In 1992, then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Joe Biden launched a preemptive attack on any nominee President George H.W. Bush named to the Supreme Court, warning that if Bush tapped someone, Biden’s committee “should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination . . . until after the political campaign season is over.”

While Biden did not get the chance to kill a Supreme Court nomination that year, he did kill the nomination of a future chief justice of the Supreme Court — John G. Roberts Jr.

On Jan. 27, 1992, President Bush nominated Roberts to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Roberts was immensely qualified for the job. He had served since 1989 as principal deputy solicitor general of the United States, arguing 39 cases before the Supreme Court, making him one of the country’s most experienced Supreme Court litigators. 

But his nomination to the federal bench was dead on arrival at Biden’s Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden refused to even hold a hearing on Roberts’s nomination, much less a vote in committee or on the Senate floor. Roberts’s nomination died in committee and was withdrawn on Oct. 8, 1992. It was only about a decade later that he was re-nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush — and we all know the rest of the story. 

Roberts was not alone in being denied a hearing or a vote by Biden. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), in 1992 Biden killed the nominations of 32 Bush appointees to the federal bench without giving them so much as a hearing. And that does not count an additional 20 nominations for the federal bench where Biden did not hold hearings that year, which CRS excluded from its count because they reached the Senate “within approximately [four] months before it adjourned.” ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post


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