Bench Memos

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Senator Hatch’s Devotion to the Constitution


Sen. Orrin Hatch, announcing today that he will vote against Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, proved that America is not about identity politics and power plays, as the Obama White House believes. 

If anyone has exercised principled deference to a president’s judicial picks, even when he disagrees with their approach to judging, it is Senator Hatch, who supported Justice Ginsburg’s and Justice Breyer’s nominations. Even after then-Senator Obama tried to filibuster Justice Alito’s nomination and voted against Alito and Chief Justice Roberts simply because they practice judicial restraint, Senator Hatch was willing to turn the other cheek and not follow the Obama example of “advice and consent.”

But unfortunately, the day is now past when Republicans can continue to exercise one-sided deference on Court picks. 

Senator Hatch no doubt speaks for all Republican Senators when he says that he “wished President Obama had chosen a Hispanic nominee that all senators could support. I believe it would have done a great deal for our great country.”

But, Senator Hatch correctly concluded that Sotomayor’s “statements and record were too much at odds with the principles about the judiciary in which I deeply believe.” This was a vote that reflected Senator Hatch’s deep loyalty to the Constitution and his oath to uphold it, and he should be saluted for it.


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