A Deseret News op-ed penned by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) explaining why he was refusing to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland after meeting him was taken down from the news site a few hours after it was published. Hatch has previously said Obama’s nominee should not get a hearing or a vote, but the op-ed, titled “My meeting with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland” (per its Google webcached version) went up before his meeting with Garland even occurred.
A spokesperson for Hatch refused to tell the Washington Post when the senator was scheduled to meet with Garland.
“Senator Hatch has made clear from the beginning that he intends to meet with Judge Garland out of respect for their longtime friendship,” the spokesperson, J.P. Freire, said. “He looks forward to their meeting and the opportunity to explain his position on the current Supreme Court vacancy.”
Paul Edwards, executive editor of the Deseret News, called the publication of the op-ed an “unfortunate error” in statement emailed to TPM.
“This morning, the Deseret News website mistakenly published a draft of an op-ed from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch explaining his position on the Supreme Court vacancy,” Edwards said. “The electronic publication of this version, awaiting edits from the Senator following his meeting with Judge Garland, was inadvertent.”
Garland — a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — has met with more than a dozen GOP senators, at least one of whom was willing to break with party line and say he deserved to go through the typical consideration process. The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Hatch sits, have pledged to refuse to give any nominee of Obama’s a hearing, because, they say, the successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia should be picked by the next president.
Coincidentally, days before Obama announced Garland as his selection, Hatch said the President wouldn’t nominate a “moderate” like Garland, whom Hatch called a “fine man.”
In the op-ed that was taken down Thursday, Hatch continued his praise for Garland, while reiterating his claim that the blockade was actually benefitting the appeals court judge.
“[H]olding the confirmation process amid the clamor and commotion of the current presidential election would thrust Judge Garland into a punishing political gauntlet that is below the dignity of a Supreme Court nominee,” Hatch wrote. “Because I care for Judge Garland personally and want to maintain the integrity of the Supreme Court, I believe the Senate is right to fill the current vacancy after the political season has ended.”
Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Paul Edwards, the executive editor of the Deseret News.