Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set CBS News’ John Dickerson straight after a claim about Democrats approving a 1956 Supreme Court nominee.
The two clashed on “Face the Nation” on Sunday discussing the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh after a bitter political battle and smear campaign by Democrats.
Dickerson brought up the “history of partisanship” in filling Supreme Court vacancies, asking McConnell if he is to blame for any of it as Democrats feel, especially in light of Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the blocking of former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick in 2016, Merrick Garland.
“You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a Senate controlled by a different party from the president confirmed a Supreme Court Justice to a vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election.,” McConnell responded.
“They’ve also conveniently forgotten that Joe Biden said in 1992 when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee – Democrats controlled the Senate, Republican in the White House – if a vacancy occurred, they wouldn’t fill it,” he added, citing another example of Democrats declaring they would not fill a potential vacancy if it occurred during former George W. Bush’s presidency.
But Dickerson pushed back on McConnell’s explanation.
“But Mr. Leader, I don’t think that’s right,” he said, noting that in 1956 Congress was under Democrat control as President Eisenhower nominated William Brennan. That nomination came a month before the November election. While a recess appointment placed Brennan on the Court, he was not officially confirmed until after Eisenhower was re-elected.
“And also on the ‘Biden rule,’ Joe Biden was talking in the abstract. There was no nominee and no nominee was blocked and he said to not have the nomination come up before the election but that it could come up after the election,” Dickerson said, asserting that Democrats claim McConnell is “creating new rules to essentially do what he wants to do” which “hurts democracy.”
McConnell quickly schooled the CBS News host.
“That’s not at all what happened, John. You’re completely misconstruing what happened,” the Kentucky Republican shot back.
“What I gave you is the history of this. I know the history of this. I’ve spent time on this throughout my career. What I did was entirely consistent with what the history of the Senate’s been in that situation going back to 1880,” he explained.
The CBS News host countered.
“I think the 1956 example and also in 1968 later in the election cycle when a Democratic president put somebody forward, the Republican leader worked with him to get that person a hearing and get him towards the Supreme Court which is not something that you did. A vote —” Dickerson said.
“Then it was a Democrat in the White House and Democratic Senate,” McConnell interjected.
“But the Republican leader at the time tried to —” Dickerson argued.
“John, you’re not listening to me. The history is exactly as I told you,” McConnell repeated.
“Well, we have a disagreement with the history but I appreciate you being with us today, Mr. Leader, thank you so much,” Dickerson concluded.
He later took to Twitter to re-hash the debate and make his point again.
But Brennan was a recess apointment in ‘56 not confirmed by Democrats ‘till ‘57. McConnell: correct! But: recess appointment & confirmations in election years undermine idea it was Sen. norm justices coldn’t be confirmed b/c voters had to have their say— the Garland rationale.
— John Dickerson (@jdickerson) October 7, 2018
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