In an ideal world, lawmakers and politicians would have a strong working knowledge of the Constitution of the United States.
After all, members of Congress and the president all swear an oath to uphold and defend the nation’s most foundational legal document.
In the real world, unfortunately, many politicians appear constitutionally illiterate — even those who have ostensibly studied the Constitution in depth.
Today’s culprit is Joe Biden, who was interviewed Wednesday by anchor Shannon Perrine of Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV. During the interview, Biden claimed that the Constitution “says the American people get an opportunity to choose who they want on the Supreme Court by who they pick as their senator and their president.”
However, the Constitution says no such thing.
Rather, the Constitution allows the president to nominate and, with the “advice and consent” of the Senate, appoint Supreme Court justices.
The Constitution does not give the American people a say in picking justices. It doesn’t even suggest that senators have a right to grill potential justices based on their ideology or political affiliation.
The president nominates a candidate. If the Senate consents, the president can appoint that candidate. That’s it.
Joe Biden — who has not only been in government for 47 years but also graduated from Syracuse Law School in 1968 and claims to have taught constitutional law for over 20 years — should know this. In fact, he supported this process in 2016.
Now, he’s changed his tune to fit his current political agenda.
To the extent Americans “get an opportunity to choose who they want” through their senators and president, the people have already spoken: Republicans hold both the Senate and the presidency. In 2018 — shortly after President Donald Trump’s last Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, was confirmed to the highest court — Americans voted to keep the Senate red.
Moreover, Biden’s claim is belied by the fact that, so far, he has refused to release a shortlist of his own potential Supreme Court nominees or answer whether, if elected, he would pack the Supreme Court with additional justices.
Perrine asked Biden if he supports court-packing; Biden refused to answer, just like he refused to answer during Tuesday night’s debate.
“You know, that’s exactly what they want me to talk about so we don’t talk about how they’re violating the Constitution now. I’m not going to play Trump’s game,” he said.
“Right now, my entire focus is seeing to it that the American people get a chance — the election has already started — to have their say on who the next Supreme Court justice is. And that’s what I’m focused on.”
If Biden won’t even provide a list of who he would nominate, how are the American people supposed to have a say? Are we just supposed to blindly support an unnamed nominee simply because he or she is Biden’s choice?
Biden’s suggestion that the Republicans are the ones violating the Constitution here is laughable, considering every major Democrat — including Biden himself — supported voting on a Supreme Court nominee in an election year in 2016.
It doesn’t violate the Constitution simply because the shoe is on the other foot this time.
Biden is completely wrong in his constitutional analysis, which is concerning from a man who wants to become president.
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