President Obama's team has asked if I would meet with Judge Merrick Garland, and I have agreed to do so out of courtesy and respect for both the president and the judge. The vacancy left by Justice Scalia's passing will not be filled until after the American people weigh in and select a new president, and I believe that is the best approach for deciding whether to alter the balance of the Supreme Court. I plan on making that clear to Judge Garland when I meet with him.Um, Senator? That's not exactly doing your job. That's showing up to work to let them know you're taking the day off.
Contrast this with someone who actually did (in this case) his job while in the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden:
Every time — as the ranking member or chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I was responsible for eight justices and nine total nominees to the Supreme Court. More than — I hate to say this — anyone alive. Oh, I can’t be that old. Some I supported; a few I voted against. And in all that time, every nominee was greeted by committee members. Every nominee got a committee hearing. Every nominee got out of the committee even if they didn’t have sufficient votes to pass within the committee. Because I believe the Senate says the Senate must advise and consent. And every nominee, including Justice Kennedy in an election year, got an up and down vote.And before anyone can say "Biden rule! BIDEN RULE!!" here's the Vice-President himself on that so-called rule:
Not much of the time. Not most of the time. Every single, solitary time.
There’s only one rule I ever followed on the Judiciary Committee — that was the Constitution’s clear rule of Advice and Consent.
Article II of the Constitution clearly states, whenever there is a vacancy in one of the courts created by the Constitution itself — the Supreme Court of the United States — the President “shall” — not “may” — the President “shall” appoint someone to fill the vacancy, with the “Advice and Consent” of the United States Senate.
And Advice and Consent includes consulting and voting. Nobody is suggesting individual senators have to vote “yes” on any particular presidential nominee. Voting “no” is always an option, and it is their option. But saying nothing, seeing nothing, reading nothing, hearing nothing, and deciding in advance simply to turn your back — before the President even names a nominee — is not an option the Constitution leaves open.
Now, back in 1992, in the aftermath of a bruising and polarizing confirmation process involving Clarence Thomas — who had been nominated by President Bush, with no consultation, just four days after the great Thurgood Marshall had retired — I took to the Senate floor to speak about the Supreme Court nominating process. Senate Majority Leader — and my friend — Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans today have been quoting selectively from the remarks that I made in an attempt to justify refusing to give Chief Judge Garland a fair hearing and a vote on the floor of the Senate. They completely ignore the fact that, at the time, I was speaking of the dangers of nominating an extreme candidate without proper Senate consultation. They completely neglected to quote my unequivocal bottom line. So let me set the record straight, as they say.Senator Toomey: chatting with the guy to tell him you're not supporting the constitutional process of a hearing and a vote is not doing your job.
I made it absolutely clear that I would go forward with the confirmation process, as chairman — even a few months before a presidential election — if the nominee were chosen with the Advice, and not merely the Consent, of the Senate — just as the Constitution requires.
Doing your job (until someone else takes that oath for your seat in Congress) is doing your job.
But I'll reiterate what I and others have said: Given how vulnerable you are in this coming election, by your own logic, shouldn't you be sitting everything out and waiting for the people of Pennsylvania to decide on what our junior senator should do?
Shouldn't you wait until after the election before doing anything?
Or, Senator Toomey, you can do your job.