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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says he would be open to holding post-election hearings on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, in December.
Hatch, a senior Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Wednesday that it might make sense to hold hearings and a confirmation vote on Garland in the lame-duck session.
{mosads}“It’s the toxicity of this environment. I’m tired of the Supreme Court being politicized. I think we’ve diminished the court over the years. The only way to get out of that is to get out of this toxic environment and have the matter decided then,” he said.
Past Congresses have used lame-duck sessions to pass controversial legislation such as the 2012 “fiscal cliff” tax deal. Partisan tensions are usually calmer in December after a hard-fought election.
Hatch said he would not commit to being for or against hearings on Garland in December.
“I’m open to it. That doesn’t mean that I’m for it,” he said of lame-duck consideration of Garland.
NPR reported earlier in the day that Republicans nudged Obama to pick Garland by sending a back-channel message that they would confirm him in the lame-duck session if Democrats win the presidency.
Hatch disputed that report.
“They know that I think highly of him, but I haven’t read his opinions in recent years,” he said.
Hatch said he had yet to make a decision on whether to meet with Garland when he comes to the Hill to meet with senators.
“We’ll have to see,” he said. “Frankly, I think this has to be put off just because of the toxic environment here.”
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