the vice president:hi, folks. joe biden here and i'msitting with tim lewis, a retired federal judge whowas nominated to the bench by a republican presidentand confirmed by a democratic senate-withinfour weeks of a presidential election. judge lewis:hello, everyone. that's right. and i'm living proof thatpresident obama's nominee to
the supreme court-chiefjudge merrick garland-deserves similarconsideration by today's senate. the vice president: not onlybecause merrick garland is recognized-withoutexception-by the right and the left as one of america'ssharpest legal minds and a model of integrity. judge lewis: but alsobecause that's what the constitution requires.
the sitting presidentshall-not may-but shall nominate someone to filla vacancy on the supreme court, with the advice andconsent of the senate. that includesconsulting and voting. the vice president:here's how it works. for 17 years, i was chairmanor ranking member of senate judiciary committee, whichoverseas nominations to the court. i presided over nine totalnominations-more than
anyone alive. some i supported. others i didn't. but every nominee wasgreeted by committee members. every nominee got acommittee hearing. every nominee got out ofthe committee to the senate floor, even when a nomineedid not receive majority support in my committee. and every nominee, includingjustice kennedy-in an
election year-got an up ordown vote by the senate. not much of the time. not most of the time. every single time. that's the constitution'sclear rule of advice and consent. and that's the rule beingviolated today by senate republicans. nobody is suggesting thatsenators have to vote "yes"
on a nominee. voting "no" isalways an option. but saying nothing, seeingnothing, reading nothing, hearing nothing, anddeciding in advance simply to turn your backs-is notan option the constitution leaves open. judge lewis: and it has realconsequences for all of us. in the four monthssince merrick garland's nomination, we've alreadyseen how the senate's
refusal to act is preventingthe court from fulfilling its duty of interpretingwhat the law is and resolving conflictsin lower courts. historic obstructionis leading to greater litigation costs anddelays-the burden falling mostly on average americansrather than corporations with endless resources. unresolved decisions by thesupreme court are leading to federal laws that shouldapply to the whole country
being constitutional in someparts but unconstitutional in others. if this continues, ourfreedom of speech, our freedom to practice ourfaith, our right to vote, our right to privacy-allcould depend on where we happen to live. the vice president: and thelonger the vacancy remains unfilled, the more seriousthe problem-with greater confusion and uncertaintyabout our safety and security.
if you have eight justiceson a case, justice scalia himself wrote, that itraises the, "possibility that, by reason of a tievote, the court will find itself unable to resolvethe significant legal issue presented by the case." and if republican senatorsfail to act, it could be an entire year before a fullystaffed supreme court can resolve any significantissue before it. folks, there's enoughdysfunction in washington,
d.c. now is not the time forit to spread to the supreme court. judge lewis: and we'rebetter than what we're seeing. as a country, we're only asstrong as the traditions we value-that we sustain bydedicating ourselves to something biggerthan ourselves. the vice president: folks,the defining difference of our great democracy hasalways been that we can reason our way through towhat ails us and then act as
citizens, voters, andpublic servants to fix it. but we have toact in good faith. for unless we find commonground, we cannot govern. for the sake of the countrywe love-we all have to do our job. the president has done his. senate republicansmust do theirs. thanks for listening andhave a great weekend.