Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he did not believe that Republican lawmakers really thought that their threat to refuse to even hear any Supreme Court nominations this year made sense.
“I think [they are doing it] because they’re intimidated by the dominant element of the Republican Party, the national politics right now, the far right,” Biden told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “I think they’re intimidated by it. I think it’s the tail wagging the dog.”
Many GOP legislators, as well as their presidential nominees, have insisted that President Barack Obama not nominate anyone to fill the vacancy left on the high court by Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death last week. But Biden argued that pushing that back until after this year’s election, as Republicans have suggested, could possibly leave the court with eight members until next summer.
“We have a dysfunctional Congress now,” he said. “We don’t need an institutionally dysfunctional Supreme Court.”
The former senator from Delaware also recalled the confirmation process for Scalia’s colleague, Clarence Thomas, in 1991, saying that Democrats could have filibustered against his nomination.
“We could have could have stopped him from, you know, being on the court,” Biden explained. “But it was a prostitution of the Constitution. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. And the system matters. It matters a lot. Procedure matters.
Watch footage from the interview, as aired on Thursday, below.