Biden says he's open to renominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court
Former vice president Joe Biden said in an interview published Friday that he would consider renominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and lamented that he wasn't tougher on Republican Senate leaders for blocking Garland's first nomination.
President Barack Obama nominated Garland in March 2016 to fill a vacancy on the court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refused to hold a hearing or a vote on Garland's nomination, arguing that given it was an election year, the next president should fill the vacancy.
Asked by Iowa Starting Line if he'd be open to nominating Garland again if elected president next year, Biden said, "Sure, I would."
"By the way, he's a first-rate person," Biden said of Garland, who currently serves as the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Biden, who was Obama's vice president at the time of Garland's nomination, also said "we should have been a whole heck of a lot harder" on McConnell.
He said in his efforts to lobby GOP senators on the nomination, several said they were worried about drawing primary challengers if they advocated moving forward.
"I have pretty good relationships on both sides of the aisle," Biden told the Iowa-based publication. "I'd say, 'What are you doing, you're setting a horrible precedent here.' And the answer was, 'I know Joe, but if I go, I'm in a red state, if I go ahead and just call for a hearing, the Koch Brothers will drop five, ten million dollars on my race.'"
Biden was referring to a pair of prolific Republican donors.
Garland's nomination expired after Obama left office. Trump went on fill the Scalia vacancy with now-Justice Neil Gorsuch in a move that infuriated Democrats.
This article was written by John Wagner, a reporter for The Washington Post.