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Biden says debate to replace Supreme Court Justice Breyer will be centred around an 'evolving' Constitution

Biden is essentially expressing his opposition to originalist interpretations of the Constitution and is instead embracing the idea that the Constitution is a living document that can be changed at the flick of a pen, or at the whim of the party in power.

Biden says debate to replace Supreme Court Justice Breyer will be centred around an 'evolving' Constitution
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the debate over his as-yet-unannounced nomination to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court will be centred around an ever “evolving” U.S. Constitution, rather than a firm set of criteria.

“At any rate, what — what we’re going to do, as I’ve said before — and I went back and looked at some of the opening statements that I made for justices over the years that, you know, it’s — the Constitution says ‘advise and consent’ — ‘advice and consent,’” Biden stated. “And I’m serious when I say it: that I want the advice of the Senate as well as the consent, if we can arrive on who the nominee should be.”

“And, you know, it’s — there’s always a renewed national debate every time we nominate — any president nominates a justice, because the Constitution is always evolving slightly in terms of additional rights or curtailing rights, et cetera,” Biden added. “And it’s always an issue. And there’s several schools of thought in terms of judicial philosophy. And we’ll see.”

Biden is essentially expressing his opposition to originalist interpretations of the Constitution and is instead embracing the idea that the Constitution is a living document that can be changed at the flick of a pen, or at the whim of the party in power.

WATCH:

A full transcript of his remarks was prepared by the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Look, I invited — we’re different parties but two good friends down here. We’ve done an awful lot of Supreme Court justices together, Senator Grassley and I, as well as Senator Durbin. And we’ve worked together on a lot of court nominations overall but particularly Supreme Court nominees.

And selecting a justice is one of the President’s most serious responsibilities. And as I always said — and I went back and looked at a lot of the opening statements I made — apparently, Dick, I’ve presided over more Supreme Court justices than anybody around that’s still in Congress or associated with the government, which is — it kind of means we must be beyond 60, Chuck. I’m not sure what it is, but we’re a little older. But —

SENATOR GRASSLEY: For me, it’d be 15 or 16.

THE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Yeah, well, and I started way back early on in the early ‘70s.

At any rate, what — what we’re going to do, as I’ve said before — and I went back and looked at some of the opening statements that I made for justices over the years that, you know, it’s — the Constitution says “advise and consent” — “advice and consent.” And I’m serious when I say it: that I want the advice of the Senate as well as the consent, if we can arrive on who the nominee should be.

And, you know, it’s — there’s always a renewed national debate every time we nominate — any President nominates a justice, because the Constitution is always evolving slightly in terms of additional rights or curtailing rights, et cetera. And it’s always an issue. And there’s several schools of thought in terms of judicial philosophy. And we’ll see.

But the fact is that I’m looking for someone who I can — this is not a static issue; it flows back and forth. What I’m looking for is a candidate with character; with the qualities of a judge, in terms of being courteous to the folks before them and treating people with respect; as well as a judicial philosophy that is more of one that suggests that there are unenumerated rights in the Constitution, and all the amendments mean something, including the Ninth Amendment.

And — but I intend to take this decision — to make this decision and get it to my colleagues by — by the end of the month. That’s my hope.

And — and I’m looking forward to their advice in how to proceed and how the hearings will be conducted and the like.

So, thank you very much. We’re going to get a chance to talk, and I want to hear from them today.

Thank you.

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