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Joe Biden Won’t Send Supreme Court Nominee to Senate Before Midterms

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With the nomination fight for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh advancing now into the home stretch, Vice President Joe Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was “not a fan” of Democrats looking to have a nominee placed before the Senate Judiciary Committee before the Nov. 6 elections.

“As a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I would not put a nominee on the floor before the election,” Biden said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Wednesday, his first public comments on the possible implications of the midterm elections on the Supreme Court vacancy.

President Trump’s nominee to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to be chosen by the president in the coming weeks. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, conservatives would be looking at a full confirmation process that would take weeks, and some have suggested the president should put his nominee before the committee before midterm elections to demonstrate bipartisanship.

Democrats, however, have insisted that the full Senate vote must come after the elections. Some Democrats have gone so far as to call for the Senate to go to recess as early as next week and go into “omnibus” reconciliation legislation and block Kavanaugh’s nomination until after the elections.

On Wednesday, Biden said he would encourage Republicans to play hardball in opposing Trump’s pick.

“I’m trying to prod them to ensure that the rejection of the Supreme Court nominee comes with as much meanness and ferocity as that vote was,” Biden said.

Biden’s comments Wednesday suggest he does not believe that both parties need to drop a breakneck pace of nomination votes to fill a Justice Kennedy vacancy and is not hoping for an extended session like the one that preceded the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Biden, who chaired the Judiciary Committee for the entirety of his lengthy Senate career, said it was difficult to draw a line in the sand.

“It’s a fine line in the sand between obstructionism and really good hardball politics,” Biden said. “I don’t see a point where, you know, the majority party would want to do this.”

Biden also weighed in on the Kavanaugh nomination, with his first assessment of the hearing emerging from his perspective as a former Judiciary chairman, and not based on prior experience or journalism.

“There’s really no sense of explanation or a search for the truth on his part,” Biden said.

Biden said the hearing “will be remembered as a deeply disturbing spectacle for the future of the Supreme Court, for the future of our country, and for the legitimacy of the country.”

He added that he thought Republicans “insulted themselves” by agreeing to hold the hearing in the first place.

“There was not a shred of evidence to support the notion that Kavanaugh was involved in anything that even could be classified as sexual assault,” Biden said.

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