Hatch: GOP should shut down SCOTUS hearing
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Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchIndustry 'surprised' by DOJ appeal in data warrant case US, South Korea can bury the trade barrier hatchet this week Time to get Trump’s new antitrust cop on the beat MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday said he doesn't think Republican senators should filibuster President Obama's Supreme Court nominee — but that they could close it down before it even gets that far in the process.

“I don't think we should filibuster Supreme Court nominees or any judicial nominees," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer after being asked whether he would support the procedural move.

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Under a filibuster, 60 votes would be required to clear hurdles ahead of a final confirmation vote.

At the same time, Hatch, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in the interview that he would support whatever decision made by Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate Dems plan floor protest ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote It's time for Republicans to play offense while Democrats are weak A bipartisan consensus against 'big pharma' is growing in Congress MORE (R-Iowa), the panel’s chairman. 

He suggested that if Grassley so chooses, he could close down a debate over who should succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday.

"We wouldn't have to filibuster. All it would take is for Sen. Grassley to just say, ‘Look, we're not going to confirm anybody this year. The reason we're not going to confirm is because we value the court, we don't want it to be in this political atmosphere,’ ” Hatch said.

Hatch’s comments add to the mixed signals sent by Republicans over their strategy for handling an Obama nominee. 

Immediately after the news of Scalia’s death, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellLobbying fight erupts over coal country bill New CBO analysis imperils GOP ObamaCare repeal Three GOP senators to vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes MORE (Ky.) said a decision on who should replace the justice should be punted to the next president. 

Democrats howled, arguing it was ridiculous to say that the Senate should not consider an Obama nominee when the president has nearly a year left in office.

McConnell and Republicans have argued that pushing the off decision until next year would give voters a voice on the decision through the 2016 election.

Since then, there have been some signs of movement from Senate Republicans. 

Grassley on Tuesday suggested there could be a hearing on an Obama nominee, saying he wanted to first wait to see who Obama chooses. 

Hatch said he supported McConnell’s call to leave the seat vacant until next year.

"I think that McConnell's right on this, and I think most Republicans feel the same way. Now whether there's a hearing or not, that's going to have to be decided by Sen. Grassley... and Sen. McConnell, who he'll consult with,” Hatch said.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), another member of the Judiciary Committee, suggested Tuesday that his party risks being viewed as "obstructionist" by pledging a blanket block on any nominee even before they know whom the president is going to nominate. 

And Wednesday, Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerNew CBO analysis imperils GOP ObamaCare repeal Three GOP senators to vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes Is Senate ObamaCare repeal bill too mean? MORE (R-Nev.) called on the president to choose a nominee who could win the approval of the Senate.

Obama has pledged to nominate someone "in due time" despite fierce pushback from conservatives, and the White House has reportedly begun to draw up lists of potential choices.

- Updated at 10:24 p.m.