Watch A Fox Host Tell Sen. Orrin Hatch He's Partly Responsible For “Politicizing” Supreme Court Nominations

Neil Cavuto: “No Offense, Senator. You've Played A Part In Politicizing It”

From the March 16 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast:

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NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): Alright, now to Orrin Hatch. But before we get to Orrin Hatch today, I want you to take a listen to this, Orrin Hatch in 1997:


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): Now, I believe Mr. Garland is a fine nominee. I know him personally. I know of his integrity. I know of his legal ability. I know of his honesty. I know of his acumen, and he belongs on the court.


CAVUTO: Alright, Orrin Hatch with me right now. Senator, what changed?

SEN. HATCH: Nothing, except 19 years, and the fact was, that was a nomination to the Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a very high court in our country but it's not the Supreme Court. The difference between that and the Supreme Court is that the Supreme Court really can make the law. It can interpret the Constitution anyway they want to, and some think they can make the Constitution --

CAVUTO: Well no doubt. But fast-forward some years later, 13 years later, in 2010, you were talking about Judge Garland saying that “I have no doubt that Garland would get a lot of (Senate) votes” -- This was when he was among those being considered for the Supreme Court -- “And I will do my best to help him get them.”

HATCH: Well, I cleared the way for Merrick Garland, and I still think very highly of him. Now, I'll be very honest with you, I haven't read a lot of his cases in the recent years and that becomes a must before any of these things can happen. But I still have a very high opinion of him and -- but I do think we should not bring up a Supreme Court justice and get in this big mess again, wrecking the court, during this really toxic presidential year. And that really bothers me.


CAVUTO: What if it is Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders who becomes president? Do you think Republicans would rue the day that they missed a chance at a moderate pick for the court. Because either one of those folks would probably pick someone a little bit more to the left.

HATCH: Well, this is the most important issue in this presidential campaign and it's a big reason why people should vote for the Republican nominee, whoever that may be. Because the next president is probably going to have somewhere between three and four judicial picks on the Supreme Court, and that could turn the whole Constitution around, in accordance with some of these activist, liberal Democrat judges that just don't seem to worry too much about what the Constitution says.

CAVUTO: You know Senator, I understand what you're saying, sir, and I appreciate that you know it's a crazy election year, and all. But by that reasoning, nothing would ever get done in an election year because it's a toxic environment. And, true to form, nothing really does get done on budget matters, on legislative matters. Why should Republicans play that game that is notoriously played out in election years and say, “you know we're going to be different? We're going to, in this environment, weigh the president's choices, come up with budgets, come up with legislation, do the kind of stuff that cynics don't think we can.” And if you don't like this nominee, vote him down.

HATCH: Well it isn't quite that simple. Joe Biden made it very clear, when he talked a year and a half before the electio,n that you should not be putting people up during a presidential election --

CAVUTO: Why? Why?

HATCH: There's good reason for that.

CAVUTO: Why? Why?

HATCH: Because it's a toxic environment, it demeans the court; people then make the court into a politicized institution --

CAVUTO: It's always politicized, senator. It's always politicized. And by that math you would just rule out the last year of any Congress, of any senator, of any president for getting stuff done. You could send a powerful signal by saying, “You know what? We are going to hold hearings, we don't like the guy, we're going to vote him down, but we know the Democrats have played these games. We know we in the past have played these games. We're not going to play these games.”

HATCH: We're sending a powerful signal that once voting has started in a presidential election campaign, in that particular toxic environment -- especially the one we have today that is very toxic -- we should not be bringing up the Supreme Court nomination.

CAVUTO: Well you know, Senator, how early these campaign years start -- earlier, and earlier, and earlier. By that math you could argue a year ago that you shouldn't have started this process. You know what I'm saying? That it gets out of control.

HATCH: I'm talking about a presidential year. This is, you know, we all know the president is a lame duck president. And there is a question whether a lame duck president, during a really toxic year like this should be nominating --

CAVUTO: When does he become a lame duck, senator? Is it the last year? Because that's a long time.

HATCH: When it comes to the Supreme Court, yes. Because let me tell you something, especially this year, I've never seen such a toxic year, such a horrific year as we have right now. And these Supreme Court nominations shouldn't be great big battles every time a president picks somebody. And the president ought to be careful to pick people, whoever the president is, that literally will do the job, and not allow politics to take over.

CAVUTO: So you would subscribe to that senator, if it's a Republican president who gets in, the last year he's in office, he submits a name, you as a Republican and a prominent one at that would tell him, “No, we can't consider it.”

HATCH: Well, I think we would. I mean, we -- I've actually advised presidents not to do that. But unfortunately, we haven't had any late situations where someone has been put up, other than Justice Kennedy. And that was after they had smeared Bob Bork, and hurt [Douglas H.] Ginsburg --

CAVUTO: Fair enough, nevertheless it was in the final year of Ronald Reagan's presidency.

HATCH: Well, but everybody just kind of gave up at that point.

CAVUTO: I understand that but there is precedent.

HATCH: Yea there's precedent, but it wasn't a toxic year like this, nor was it a year where people are all up in arms about everything. And frankly, that's what bothers me. I'm tired of the court being politicized. And this is politicizing the court during this particular year.

CAVUTO: Well no, no offense, senator. You've played a part in politicizing it. Now, maybe that wasn't your goal, but both parties do this.

HATCH: I don't think so.

CAVUTO: And I think it would be interesting to see a guy like you who is widely respected, both sides of the aisle say, “you know what I've had enough of this nonsense.”

HATCH: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that.

CAVUTO: I said, maybe it's a great time for you to say, “I've had enough of this nonsense. Let's do this.”

HATCH: I've had enough of the nonsense that's occurred in some of these past processes. And they occurred not in a presidential year, where voting had already started and half the voting is over. Look this is not the way to do Supreme Court nominations. And frankly it isn't the person -- it isn't the person that we're against. It's this system that really doesn't work well. And, it diminishes the court, reduces the respect for the court, and frankly, I don't want anything to do with something that's going to diminish the respect of the court.