Former Vice President Joe Biden said he would be open to renominating to the Supreme Court federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, whose Senate confirmation in 2016 was thwarted by the Republican Senate .
In an interview with Iowa Starting Line on Friday, the Democratic presidential hopeful called Garland a “first-rate person.”
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Obama first nominated Garland in 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, announced the Senate would not consider an appointment until after the presidential election. Upon taking office, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat.
“I think we should have been a whole heck of a lot harder on [Mitch McConnell],” Biden told Starting Line of the 2016 effort. Biden said when he would ask Republicans why they were blocking the nomination, they would respond, “I’m in a red state, if I go ahead and just call for a hearing, the Koch Brothers will drop five, 10 million dollars on my race.”
Biden said he would not try to expand the court as president, but added that reforming campaign finance laws to allow for public financing could reduce partisan gridlock during judicial nominations.
Garland serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and he has been regarded as a moderate. Still, critics say it would not be strategic to nominate the judge a second time because he is now 66. Meanwhile, Trump has been pushing for young judges who can serve for decades.