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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Hatch and the GOP Senate Leadership Hit a Home Run



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Conservatives should be heartened by the Judiciary Committee assignments for the upcoming Senate. As Ed Whelan noted last week, the new Republican seat on the committee will be filled by Mike Lee of Utah. Lee is certainly well-qualified on paper — a lawyer with inside judicial experience, having clerked at the district, appellate, and Supreme Court levels, which makes him the rare individual with experience in all three levels of the federal judiciary. But it is his personal passion for the Constitution and clear understanding of the importance of judicial philosophy that will likely make him a key player on the committee in coming years, especially when another Supreme Court slot opens up.

This isn’t someone who will simply vote the party line or try to garner points with the media by flouting it. Lee understands that fostering a faithful interpretation of the Constitution will ultimately make the difference between maintaining the limited government our Founders envisioned and replacing it with a bureaucratic behemoth of ever-expanding scope and power. 

Even more encouraging is what the committee choice tells us about the leadership and Senator Hatch, a longtime member of the committee. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hatch was a “strong advocate” for getting Lee on the committee and was helpful in securing a waiver of the GOP rule against having two senators from the same state on the committee. Senator McConnell is also to be commended for putting a freshman in such an important position.

Assignments like this indicate that the Republican leadership was paying attention to the voters last fall and will be aggressive in promoting a genuinely conservative vision for the new Congress. Best of luck to them in their efforts to bring our government back in line with the Constitution. 



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