In an impassioned plea for a restoration of procedural norms and good-faith governance, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called for President Donald Trump’s forthcoming Supreme Court nominee to be withdrawn should he win the election in November.
“If I win this election, President Trump’s nominee should be withdrawn and, as the new president, I should be the one to nominate Justice Ginsburg’s successor,” Biden said during a speech in Philadelphia on Sunday.
There is little indication that this request will be honored; Trump has said he will nominate a justice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the next week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the president’s nominee will receive a vote in the Senate.
But Biden’s speech was strikingly blunt about acknowledging that reality.
“I’m not being naive. I’m not speaking to President Trump, who will do whatever he wants,” Biden said. I’m not speaking to Mitch McConnell, who will do what he wants — and he does. I’m speaking to those ... Senate Republicans who know deep down what is right for the country, and what is consistent with the Constitution.”
Biden went on to explicitly say he was trying to appeal to the “handful” of Republicans whom he sees as either moderate or norm-oriented enough to consider his proposal.
“Please, follow your conscience,” he said. “Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created. ... We can’t keep rewriting history, scrambling norms, and ignoring our cherished system of checks and balances.”
Biden’s remarks foreshadowed the governing style that he’s repeatedly said he would favor as president — an appeal to the better angels of his political adversaries, and a belief that bipartisanship is possible when human decency is foregrounded in America’s political culture.