Vice President Joe Biden called congressional Republicans' refusal to consider any Supreme Court nominee put forth by President Barack Obama an "an unprecedented act of obstruction" in an opinion piece published by The New York Times on Thursday.
"It is an unprecedented act of obstruction. And it risks a stain on the legacy of all those complicit in carrying out this plan. I would ask my friends and colleagues -- and all those who love the Senate -- to think long and hard before going down this road," Biden wrote.
Biden's article addressed comments he made as a senator more than two decades ago, urging then-President George H.W. Bush to hold off on nominating anyone to the Supreme Court if a spot were to open up during the 1992 presidential campaign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) referenced that speech on the Senate floor this week, saying Republicans "will observe the 'Biden rule'" by refusing to hold any hearings on an Obama SCOTUS nominee to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
Biden argued that he made those comments as part of a broader speech, encouraging Bush not to "create immense political acrimony" by nominating someone during campaign season.
"My purpose was not to obstruct, but to call for two important goals: restoring a more consultative process between the White House and the Senate in filling Supreme Court vacancies, and encouraging the nomination of a consensus candidate who could lower the partisan temperature in the country," Biden wrote. "It is the same view I hold today."
Less than a week after Scalia's death, Biden addressed congressional Republicans' resistance. "They are intimidated by the dominant element of the Republican Party," he said.
“I don’t believe in their heart they think this makes sense," Biden told MSNBC. "They’ve never done this before.”
Read Biden's op-ed at The New York Times.