Grassley Pressed On Made-Up ‘Biden Rule’: ‘We Don’t Have A Written Rule’

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, town hall meeting, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Wilton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) struggled to explain the so-called “Biden rule,” when pressed by a progressive activist at a Iowa town hall.

Asked about when the clock kicks in for a president to no longer be able to nominate a Supreme Court justice, Grassley demurred.

“I don’t think that finite approach can be answered unless you actually want to write a rule or law that says that,” Grassley said Thursday, describing the Biden rule as more of a “understanding.”

“I use the term Biden rule, and people think we’ve got a written rule, we don’t have a written rule, and maybe you can think of a better word than understanding,” Grassley said. “I think that if you are going to get that precise, it ought be something that’s on paper.”

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which typically hosts hearings for Supreme Court nominees, Grassley is on the front lines of the GOP Senate’s refusal to go forward with the consideration of President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. He and other Republicans have cited what they have dubbed the “Biden rule,” referring to a speech Vice President Joe Biden made in 1992 when he was the Judiciary Chair discouraging then-President Bush from appointing a nominee in the months leading up to that year’s presidential election.

Biden has countered that Republicans are taking his speech out of context: for one it was made in June, while the current vacancy opened up in February, when Justice Antonin Scalia died. He was also discussing a hypothetical scenario, not an actual vacancy, and he said in the speech that he would still consider a nominee if he or she was a moderate.

As a historical happenstance, almost never in modern history has a vacancy opened up in the last year of a presidency when the Senate was controlled by the opposing party, meaning that there is no real precedent one way or the other guiding Republicans’ current blockade.

Video of Grassley’s answer Thursday is below, via American Bridge. The question was asked by Matt Sinovic, the executive director of Progress Iowa.

Latest Livewire

Notable Replies

  1. It would be the GOP ‘rule’ except that it keeps changing. It’s the McConnell rule – lie and lie and lie.

  2. I think it’s only a matter of time before Grassley totally loses his shit. Maybe while debating Dem opponent Judge or even before that, but I think it’s going to happen. He is an idiot, and has rarely been pushed by the media or other politicians. He does not know how to handle or laugh off criticism. And he has the same affliction that affects all modern Republicans - the “FoxNews thin skin disease”, which only flares up when they are outside of the FoxNews bubble.

  3. They do politics like it was a game of CalvinBall. Just make up the rules as you go along!

  4. You dumb fuck – we know there isn’t a written rule somewhere. We just want you to justify your obstinence.

Continue the discussion at

62 more replies


Avatar for doremus_jessup Avatar for victorabrahamsen Avatar for dustbunny44 Avatar for jw1 Avatar for sysprog Avatar for clunkertruck Avatar for trnc Avatar for thunderhawk Avatar for rudesan Avatar for sniffit Avatar for daveyjones64 Avatar for progressiveoldman Avatar for denisj Avatar for go2goal Avatar for barblzz Avatar for exspectator Avatar for dickweed Avatar for jcblues Avatar for azjude Avatar for thunderclapnewman Avatar for meta Avatar for wevets Avatar for gusfabriani Avatar for xp9dnxx

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: