The controversial decision to deny Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing n 2016 to become a Supreme Court justice was correct, former Sen. Roy Blunt told NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday, saying that in any case his nomination was certain to fail.
The Missouri Republican said, "You could argue maybe we should have had a hearing. I think the way these hearings go, that would in many ways have been unfair to him, to put him through a hearing, to not be approved."
Blunt continued, "I actually supported the majority leader's decision at the time and still think in the politics of the country and the way these confirmations have happened. When you have the majority and the president's from the other party, there's just a long history of not filling an election-year vacancy."
The former senator admitted, however, that denying a hearing for Garland, who is now the U.S. attorney general, was an issue he heard more about than any other while he was senator.
"I will say in that year, I had more people at the airport and other places mention that single thing to me than I've ever had of any other thing. 'Why don't you give Garland a hearing?'" Blunt said. "And I think I probably gave them the same answer I just gave you. 'He won't be confirmed. Having a hearing would be a mistake for him and for the country.'"
Garland was nominated in March 2016 by then-President Barack Obama after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February of that year, The Hill reported.
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a confirmation hearing, saying it was an election year. However, McConnell allowed a confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump in late September 2020, also an election year, eliciting criticism that he was a hypocrite.
But Blunt told "Meet the Press" that had Republicans not held a confirmation hearing for Barrett when they held the majority and had the opportunity, voters would have punished them on Election Day.
"I get it. Now the difference, of course, the next year before a presidential change is that the president's party has the majority," Blunt said. "And that's a different circumstance in a substantial way. If you don't do that, let's say you don't do that two months before the election, you've always got the sense that your side will just collapse on Election Day, because they wonder why they sent you there if you could've done this and didn't. And so that's, that's a big difference."
Brian Freeman ✉
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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