If you needed yet another indicator of how intransigent Senate Republicans are about Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, in the face of fair play, good faith, and good governance, you got it on Thursday in the form of Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. The Republican senator has been an anti-confirmation hawk for the party. On Thursday, Hatch appears to have been scheduled to meet with Garland, although he has been unwilling to participate in confirmation hearings on his nomination. The meeting appeared to be a courtesy call, but, you know, at least Hatch is going into it with an open mind. Or not.
On Thursday morning, the Deseret News, a Utah newspaper, mistakenly published an op-ed by Hatch that discussed Garland’s nomination and the senator’s reaction to his meeting with Garland—even though it hadn’t happened yet. The paper quickly took it down and blamed it on an editing error, but here’s the cached version:
I met with Judge Garland as a personal friend and out of respect for his position as a distinguished federal judge. Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle.
Hatch didn’t even wait to hear Garland’s elevator pitch before deciding his “principled position” against the nomination was right all along! Of course, pre-writing an opinion piece is pretty standard practice in politics, but it seems emblematic of the current state of play on Capitol Hill that Hatch went ahead and decided what happened in the meeting—and wrote about it—before even attending the meeting. “The nominee’s background and reputation, the views of experts and the opinions of pundits and other third parties will be relevant when the confirmation process occurs, but not before,” Hatch wrote. “The question for the Senate is when and how the confirmation process for the Scalia vacancy should occur.”