Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the contentious Supreme Court fights involving Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, said he never denied any nominee a vote — unlike Senate Republicans, who are denying President Barack Obama's Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland.
"I presided over more Supreme Court nominees than anybody living," Biden said in an interview with CNBC. "Every single person who got nominated got a hearing. Everyone got a vote in committee. Even the ones who weren't voted out of committee, which it required majority vote to get out, I insisted they go to the floor to get a vote. Liberals were mad at me at that time because they said we could block him in committee.
"But the Constitution says the Senate shall advise and consent," he added. "Everyone got a vote on the Senate floor, even those we could have blocked by a filibuster, because it says the Senate shall advise and consent and not use Senate rules to avoid the intent of the Constitution."
Biden disclaimed responsibility for politicizing the nomination process. Some Republicans say that politicization accelerated with the defeat of Ronald Reagan nominee Bork, after 1987 hearings Biden chaired.
"Not at all," Biden said. Instead, he said he had helped clear away the previously existing artifice under which senators had cloaked their ideological objections to court nominees behind claims of ethical concerns. "All I did was to say, 'You can vote. The Senate has a right to vote against someone based upon if they think they're misinterpreting the Constitution."
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