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LETTER: Shame on Hoeven for refusing to hear nominee

In attempting to justify their refusal to hear any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Republicans in the Senate cite a 1992 speech by then-Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, arguing that nominations should no...

In attempting to justify their refusal to hear any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Republicans in the Senate cite a 1992 speech by then-Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, arguing that nominations should not be made in an election year.

What they fail to mention is that in the same speech, Biden also pledged that he would support a Bush nominee if the president worked with the Senate and appointed a moderate.

Biden's speech, then, is a long way from refusing to hear any nominee, which the Republican majority has done and which Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has promoted.

This outright refusal has no precedent, at least since 1900. Since that time, there have been eight election year nominees.

Six were confirmed. A seventh was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower during a recess. Abe Fortas, already a Supreme Court member, was rejected as Lyndon Johnson's nominee for chief justice.

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That accounts for all eight; note there were no refusals to hear and vote. Note also that voting does not mean "vote to approve."

It means vote your conscience.

Without a precedent, is there a principle? Perhaps the same "principle" that has created the least productive Congress in many years: obstructionism. Led by this "principle," the Senate majority neglects its duty and refuses to hear even a moderate Supreme Court nominee such as Merrick Garland.

We should expect better than this, and better from Hoeven.

Ron Franz

Grand Forks

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