Hatch is one of the most respected U.S. senators and has served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on three separate occasions. Hatch has also been an outspoken advocate of the Republican strategy to wait to confirm a Supreme Court nominee until after the presidential election in November, recently telling the Federalist Society that this was “the chickens coming home to roost” for the Obama Administration.
But Hatch has also been a long-time advocate for Merrick Garland, who President Obama will nominate to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. In 2010, when he was considered for the slot that ultimately went to Elena Kagan, Hatch said that he had known Garland for years. He added that, if nominated, he would be a “consensus nominee” and that there was “no question” he would be confirmed.
And just last week, he praised Garland and indicated he was a qualified candidate, saying, “The president told me several times he’s going to name a moderate [to fill the court vacancy], but I don’t believe him. [Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man. He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”
By nominating Garland, Obama has put Republicans like Hatch on their back foot. They’ll argue that this is about process—about waiting for the American people to decide. Obama’s nomination of Garland is a transparently political maneuver that shows just how transparently political his opponents are being.