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"Merrick Garland is an honorable public servant who deserves our respect," Hatch said in a statement

A Utah newspaper mistakenly published an op-ed from Hatch about the meeting before it actually happened

Washington CNN —  

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch will meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Thursday but still believes the Senate should not begin the confirmation process before the presidential election.

“Merrick Garland is an honorable public servant who deserves our respect. We have been friends for nearly two decades and I look forward to visiting with him today,” Hatch said Thursday in a statement. “Despite my personal affection for Merrick, I remain convinced that the right way for the Senate to do its job is to conduct a confirmation process after this contentious presidential election season is over. Doing so is the proper course to ensure a constructive process for a nominee and to preserve the integrity of the Supreme Court.”

In the past, Hatch has praised Hatch, calling him a “fine man” in an interview with Newsmax back in March.

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The Deseret News of Salt Lake City mistakenly published an op-ed Thursday from Hatch about the meeting before the meeting actually happened.

“I met with Judge Garland as a personal friend and out of respect for his position as a distinguished federal judge,” Hatch wrote in the op-ed. “Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle.”

In the op-ed, Hatch argued that it is rare to confirm a nominee after people already began voting for a president.

“This is only the third vacancy in nearly a century to occur after the American people had already started voting in a presidential election, and in the previous two instances – in 1956 and 1968 – the Senate did not confirm a nominee until the following year,” Hatch wrote. “And 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 arose in very unique circumstances only because Justice Charles Evans Hughes resigned his seat on the court to run against incumbent President Woodrow Wilson.”