Joseph R. Biden joined a chorus of top Democrats on Friday evening to say that the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should not be filled until voters have a say through the presidential election.
Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said the public should focus on “the loss of the justice and her enduring legacy” in the coming days.
“But there is no doubt — let me be clear — that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Mr. Biden said. “This was the position [the] Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election.”
“That’s the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election’s only 46 days off,” he said.
News of Justice Ginsburg’s death from pancreatic cancer broke as Mr. Biden was traveling back from Minnesota to Delaware.
“She practiced the highest American ideals as a justice: equality and justice under the law,” said Mr. Biden, who presided over her confirmation when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During the battle over Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, Senate Republicans cited a speech Mr. Biden gave in 1992 as judiciary chairman in which he said President George H.W. Bush should delay filling a hypothetical vacancy on the court until after the election.
Former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Garland for the high court in March 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked action on the nomination, saying the American public should have a chance to weigh in through the presidential election.
In March 2016, Mr. Biden said the so-called “Biden rule” doesn’t exist, that he was talking about the perils of rushing through an extreme candidate, and that he was clear that he would still proceed with the nomination process.
Mr. McConnell said in a statement Friday evening that whoever President Trump nominates will get a vote in the U.S. Senate.
The Kentucky Republican has said the situation with Judge Garland was different because the White House and the Senate were controlled by different parties.