Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch visited the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday. He told lawmakers and reporters that the U.S. Senate should wait until after the 2016 presidential election to confirm a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Hatch is one of the most senior members in the U.S. Senate. He’s held a seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than two decades and also served as chairman.
With more than 260 days left until the 2016 election, some question whether the court can function with only eight judges. Hatch says the vast majority of Supreme Court cases are decided in a bipartisan way and the court can put off contentious decisions until a new justice is appointed.
“The country is going to be worse off if we don’t have a process that is basically as apolitical as we can make it,” Hatch says. “Which it would not be this year.”
At the same time, Hatch told reporters Tuesday during his visit to the Utah State Capitol that he’s not deciding now to oppose the person President Obama nominates to replace Scalia.
“I never decide that until the end,” Hatch says. “They’ll come and visit with me whoever the nominees are and I will treat them with great respect.”
Justice Antonin Scalia died Saturday at the age of 79. His body will lie in repose at the Supreme Court later this week. His funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Washington, DC.