Poll: Utahns Divided on Whether Senate Should Vote on Obama’s SCOTUS Pick

Supreme Court BuildingA plurality of Utahns at least want the U.S. Senate to take a vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.

But that’s not going to happen, at least not before the November elections and we see who wins the presidency, perhaps who controls the Senate.

Dan Jones & Associates finds in a new survey that 48 percent of Utahns disagree with Utah GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, who both are staunch defenders of Senate majority Republicans not holding a vote on U.S. District Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

Forty-three percent agree with the no-vote stand by Hatch and Lee, and 9 percent don’t know, Jones found.

Of course, the issue is very partisan; some may argue entirely partisan as Garland has been lauded as an excellent judge from many quarters.

Hatch has in the past praised Garland, even taking the floor of the Senate to challenge any reasonable person to oppose Garland when he was nominated for the D.C. appeals court – which is considered, next to the Supreme Court, the most important federal court in the land.

But Hatch is singing a different tune now, reflecting Utah Republicans’ stand.

Jones finds:

  • 59 percent of Utah Republicans agree with Hatch and Lee on no Garland vote, for now, 29 percent of Republicans believe the senators are wrong, that at least a vote should be taken, and 12 percent don’t know.
  • Utah Democrats are just the opposite, 83 percent disagree with the senators and want a Garland vote, 14 percent say wait for the next president, and 4 percent don’t know.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of political independents say the Senate should vote on Garland, 27 percent say no and 7 percent don’t know.

Lee is a darling of Utah’s right wing. And he stands with them on this issue.

Three-fourths of those who told Jones they are “very conservative” don’t want a vote on Garland, only 18 percent of the “very conservative” say the judge should get a Senate vote, and 8 percent don’t know.

It all switches when moving to the left: 62 percent of “moderates” want a Garland vote, 32 percent say no, and 5 percent don’t know.

Among the “very liberal,” 85 percent say vote on the judge, 9 percent say no and 5 percent don’t know.

Only a few GOP senators will even meet with Garland – Hatch and Lee are not among them.

Hatch, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, and past chairman, at one point said maybe there could be a vote on Garland after the November election when the current Senate meets in a lame duck session.

But even that is not promised by other Senate GOP leaders.

If Democrat Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency, but the Senate stay in control of the Republicans, then some may argue Clinton would nominate a more liberal judge than Garland.

So to act on Garland may be a wise move for Republicans.

But if Clinton wins and the Senate goes majority Democratic in the election, then the new majority may want to wait for Clinton’s nominee, who likely would side with the four more liberal members of the high court and give liberals a solid 5-4 court majority.

One thing is clear, Hatch and Lee won’t be following what most Utahns want – a vote before November of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Jones polled 600 Utahns from March 23 to April 5. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.