Matt Wade | Wikipedia Commons

Twenty-four years after then-Sen. Joe Biden (D‑Pa.) declared that the U.S. Senate should no longer proceed with Supreme Court nom­i­na­tions during pres­i­dential election years, Repub­licans suc­cess­fully used that precedent to block former Pres­ident Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Forcing the Democrats to taste their own med­icine not only saved the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, it also secured an orig­i­nalist majority now that Brett Kavanaugh sits on the bench.

The midterm elec­tions gave the GOP a larger Senate majority, but it would be prudent for Pres­ident Trump and con­ser­v­a­tives to obey the “Biden rule.” Should a vacancy on the Supreme Court occur in 2020, the Senate GOP should abstain from pro­ceeding with a replacement nominee. This would further expand Trump’s window of oppor­tunity to cement the high Court’s new con­ser­v­ative majority.

Fol­lowing the Biden rule would not dis­courage base Repub­lican voters from turning out in 2020. In fact, abiding by that precedent might actually benefit the GOP in the upcoming pres­i­dential election. Supreme Court nom­i­na­tions played a critical role in Trump’s victory in 2016, prompting self-iden­tified evan­gelical voters to turn out and secure crucial swing states like Florida, North Car­olina, and Iowa. According to a 2016 Wash­ington Post poll, Trump bested Hillary Clinton by a sig­nif­icant 56 percent among the voters who viewed high Court appoint­ments as the “most important factor.”

The GOP faces a tough Senate map in 2020, and any strain of hypocrisy among Repub­licans could endanger their majority. Repub­licans could face stiff chal­lenges in the Senate races in Arizona and Maine. It would be a mistake for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑Ky.) to disobey the Biden rule because such hypocrisy could stave off inde­pen­dents voters in these important bat­tle­ground races. Main­taining the moral high ground will encourage base Repub­lican voters and maintain enough inde­pendent voters to create a coalition that could save the GOP Senate majority in 2020.

One of writer and political activist Saul Alinsky’s famous “Rules for Rad­icals” was to not resist the rules of the enemy but to make the enemy live up to his own rules instead. It was a coura­geous tactic pulled off by McConnell in 2016 and he should not shy away from doing so again. The Democrats accused the GOP of obstructing the Garland nom­i­nation, revealing their own hypocrisy. Shouldn’t Repub­licans then strive to remain innocent of any similar vio­lation? Such a break in precedent would give Democrats ade­quate ammu­nition to effec­tively use Alinsky’s tactic.

Though another tex­tu­alist jurist on the bench would be an important con­ser­v­ative win, Trump should wait to do so if the oppor­tunity presents itself.

Doyle Wang is a George Wash­ington Fellow and a junior studying Pol­itics.