Press Releases

Press releases are archived according to their release date. For press releases by topic, please see the Issue Positions page.

Washington—U.S. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Committee’s longest-serving current member, released the following statement in response to President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court:

"The Constitution grants the President the power to nominate a candidate for the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death.  The Constitution likewise gives the Senate the power to provide its advice and decide whether to grant or withhold its consent to that nomination.  President Obama has exercised his power by nominating Merrick Garland. I stand with the majority of my Senate colleagues in concluding that the best way to exercise our advice-and-consent power is to conduct the confirmation process after the presidential election. Doing so will keep what should be a serious confirmation discussion from becoming denigrated by the toxic politics of this election season, and it will give the American people a voice in the direction of our nation’s highest court. This approach to the Senate’s advise-and-consent role isn’t about the individual the President has chosen—it’s about the broader principle."

The Senate has never allowed a term-limited President to fill a Supreme Court vacancy this late in his term. This is only the third vacancy in nearly a century to occur after the American people had already started voting for the next President. In the previous two instances, in 1956 and 1968, the Senate did not confirm a nominee until the year after the presidential election. In fact, the only time the Senate has ever confirmed a nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy created after voting began in a presidential election year was in 1916, and that vacancy only arose when Justice Charles Evans Hughes resigned his seat on the Court to run against the incumbent president. Senator Hatch laid out a detailed argument for waiting until after the election to fill the current vacancy HERE

The current vacancy on the Supreme Court arose on February 13, 2016 with the death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Senator Hatch was a longtime friend of Justice Scalia. His tribute on the Senate floor to the late Justice can be found HERE, and an op-ed outlining Senator Hatch’s full argument can be found HERE