- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah was scheduled to meet Thursday with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but a guest editorial he wrote for the Deseret News mistakenly posted early shows he had already made up his mind.

In a column that briefly appeared Thursday morning on the newspaper’s website, Hatch wrote that his meeting with Garland didn’t change his “conviction” that the Senate should wait until after the presidential election to consider Supreme Court nominees. The column has since been taken down.

Deseret News Executive Editor Paul Edwards apologized to Hatch and readers for the “unfortunate error.” He said in a statement the editorial was a draft copy awaiting edits from Sen. Hatch following the meeting that was inadvertently published in the Salt Lake City-based paper.

President Barack Obama has nominated Judge Garland to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

Hatch has been among the most outspoken Republicans in Congress vowing not to hold hearings or a confirmation vote until a new president takes office.

The longtime Republican senator issue a statement Thursday confirming his meeting with Garland, whom he calls a longtime friend, but not addressing the early posting of his guest editorial.

Hatch praised Garland’s track record in the statement but said despite his personal affection for the judge the right move is to wait to pick a new Supreme Court judge.

He explained his reasoning in the guest editorial in the Deseret News that remains available in an online database.

“This decision is about the confirmation process and has nothing to do with the qualifications, character or record of the nominee,” Hatch wrote. “The reasons for considering a nominee after the political fireworks of a presidential election remain just as compelling today as they were in February following Justice Scalia’s death.”

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