It is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of the majority of his predecessors and not, and not name a nominee until after the November election is completed.
The senate too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year. It is my view that if the president goes the way of Presidents Fillmore and Johnson and presses an election year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until ever — until after the political campaign season is over.
And I sadly predict, Mr. President, that this is going to be one of the bitterest, dirtiest presidential campaigns we will have seen in modern times.
I’m sure, Mr. President, after having uttered these words, some, some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it. But that would not be our intention, Mr. President, if that were the course we were to choose as a senate to not consider holding the hearings until after the election. Instead it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me, Mr. President, we will be in deep trouble as an institution.