Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued on Tuesday that Republicans should not confirm any Supreme Court nominees put forward by President Barack Obama because the nation’s highest court functions properly without a ninth justice.
During an interview on CNN’s New Day, host Chris Cuomo pointed out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had said during a 2005 floor debate that there was no so-called “Thurmond Rule” preventing Democrats from confirming George W. Bush’s judges in an election year.
“You don’t get to not vote on judges just because it is an election year and final year of someone’s presidency. So, that hypocrisy is as play as well,” Cuomo said. “You don’t have to like whom he nominates, but shouldn’t you go through the process?”
“No,” Hatch insisted. “I don’t think there is any real reason to do that.”
“What about the constitution?” the CNN host pressed.
“Look, this president’s been treated fairly,” Hatch replied. “He’s actually put 40 percent of the federal judiciary up and Republicans have allowed votes on all of those. Now what they are saying is look, we are in a tremendous presidential campaign, there is a lot of bitterness on both sides, let’s diffuse this thing and let’s put this until the next president of the United States.”
We’ll wait and use discretion, and whoever is the next president will do the job,” Hatch added. “Now the Democrats of course naturally want this because they want to have a 5-4 majority on the court.”
“The GOP doesn’t want it. That’s right,” Cuomo agreed. “The only thing I would add, Senator, for your observation is you say there is no reason to do it right now. A 4-4 court is not a good thing for the Supreme Court.”
“Now wait a minute,” Hatch shot back. “A 4-4 court functions it’s functioned in the past. It will function this time. Just on the really controversial issues they will probably put them off for a year. It is not the end of the world. As a matter of fact, it is a smart thing to do.”
According to the senator, putting off the confirmation was the only way to be “fair” to both sides.
“The Constitution doesn’t make any distinctions like that,” Cuomo noted. “While he’s president, he’s supposed to do this.”
“The Constitution in fact gives you every right to defer this,” Hatch opined. “And to make sure that it is done in the best of ways so that both sides have an opportunity to have their person in the presidency and then, you know, if the Democrats win we’ll go through this process the way it ought to be gone through.”
Watch the video below from CNN’s New Day, broadcast Feb. 16, 2016.