When Fox Hosts Said No Supreme Court Nominations In A Presidential Year

supreme court

United States Supreme Court courtroom

Photo by Phil Roeder / CC BY 2.0

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Dana Perino are all on the record saying that the U.S. Senate should not move a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of justice, a legal giant, and a pioneering feminist icon, passed away on Friday night after a long battle with cancer. Right-wing media figures instantly began pushing for President Donald Trump to name her successor.

But after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blockaded President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, refusing to even grant him a hearing. "The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," he said in a statement following the news of Scalia's death. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

McConnell and other Senate Republicans would later claim that they were following the "Biden Rule," citing a 1992 speech from then-Sen. Joe Biden in which they claimed he said there should be no Supreme Court nominations in a presidential year. (There was no such actual rule -- Biden had been discussing a hypothetical situation involving a voluntary resignation, not a death, that never came to pass.)

Fox hosts followed along with McConnell's argument.

"You know, it's what goes around, comes around," Hannity said on his March 16, 2016, show of McConnell "citing the Biden rule," adding, "Why should the Republicans act any different?"

After reading a quote in which Biden said in his hypothetical that "the Senate Judiciary Committee should consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over," Hannity added, "So I'm with Joe Biden. I agree with Biden."

"I think that they're under no obligation," saidThe Five co-host Dana Perino when asked for the strongest argument against moving forward with Garland's nomination that same day. "And I like that Senate Majority Leader today Mitch McConnell said, 'Mr. President, we're going to use the Biden rule.' The Biden rule was, let's not confirm anybody in a political year. I mean, it's hard to argue against the Biden rule if you're at the White House. So there's that."

After Trump took office, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia's seat. On his show in February 2017, Hannity praised McConnell for holding open the seat, saying that he had "h[eld] off on the president's nominee in the final year of his term, which is known as the Biden rule that Chuck Schumer supported."

Ingraham replied, "Merrick Garland didn't get a hearing and the Democrats are really mad about that," to which Hannity said, "But that's the Biden rule."

Ingraham then indicated that McConnell's decision was correct. "The last 70 years a Supreme Court justice has not been confirmed in the final year of a president's term," she falsely said. "That wasn't really out of the ordinary, but it doesn't matter" to Democrats, she added.

But with Trump in office, McConnell has reversed himself, saying that a nominee will receive a floor vote -- even though Ginsburg's death came much closer to the presidential election than Scalia's. Now we will see if those Fox hosts join him in abject hypocrisy.


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