Fox News host Megyn Kelly allowed Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to claim that the Senate does not confirm judicial nominees in the last year of a presidency, also called the "Thurmond Rule," ignoring that Sessions described the rule as a “myth” eight years ago.
During the February 16 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly interviewed Sessions regarding President Obama's decision to pick a nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Kelly pointed to Democratic opposition to Supreme Court nominees from then-President George W. Bush to claim “hypocrisy on both sides,” but when asked why a nominee from President Obama should not at least receive a hearing and vote, Sessions argued that “the tradition is not to confirm someone in the last year.”:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Mitch McConnell sounded very different on this issue too. There is hypocrisy on both sides, but when you look at folks like Chuck Schumer, who has completely reversed himself on the appropriateness of confirming Supreme Court nominees in an election year. He didn't want it to happen within 18 months of the presidential election, never mind 11 months, where we are now.
KELLY: I mean Senator, this is ridiculous, it's ridiculous. So to those who are home saying, “I don't know, I don't trust any of these politicians, but when there's a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, there's almost a year before we get the next president, why wouldn't you Republicans allow the president a hearing and give this person at least an up or down vote,” what say you?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: Well, I think it's the -- the president's had two confirmations to the Supreme Court, two very activist judges, in my opinion, that don't allow -- don't maintain their fidelity to the words of our Constitution and laws and I don't think he's entitled to have a third one at this late date. As a matter of fact, the tradition is not to confirm someone in the last year and as [Senator] Pat Leahy [(D-VT)], when he chaired the committee, has chaired the Judiciary Committee for many years, he just refused time and again to move nominees. They never got a hearing, they never got voted on, many withdrew as time went by and they couldn't get a hearing. So he's certainly -- so what we're talking about in this case is so important that the American people should be the one to decide which direction the Supreme Court will go.
Kelly failed to note that Sessions himself disputed the idea that nominations should be halted during an election year in 2008. Speaking on the Senate floor in that year, Sessions said [emphasis added]:
I would say there has been talk about invoking the so-called Thurmond Rule. The Thurmond Rule could sort of be, if you want it to be, an excuse for slow-walking nominees and not approving the nominees who ought to be approved just because there is a Presidential election on the horizon. Majority Leader Harry Reid mentioned last night that the so called rule would be invoked in June. Senator Leahy has mentioned before he would invoke it in the second half of this year. Let me say this about the Thurmond Rule. It is a myth. It does not exist. There is no reason for stopping the confirmation of judicial nominees in the second half of a year in which there is a Presidential election.