Cross Hatch

by Ramesh Ponnuru

I read John Yoo’s case for keeping Senator Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) with interest because I have no strong views on the matter. Yoo makes the case that Hatch has done a lot for conservatives. I agree. Hatch can be quite an effective spokesman; he has the whole more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger form of rebuking his opponents down pat. On the other hand, I don’t know if I buy that Antonin Scalia would not have been confirmed without Hatch’s assistance. The first Italian-American justice won the votes of 98 senators, after all.

Anyway, what I found unsatisfying in Yoo’s case was his failure to mention* the other side of the ledger. Hatch was a co-sponsor of immigration bills most conservatives oppose; he teamed up with Ted Kennedy to create the S-Chip entitlement; he supported the nominations of Justices Breyer and Ginsburg along with those of many lower-court liberals; and so on. Now there may be good defenses of some of these positions, and Hatch’s record has gotten better in recent years (especially since he saw his colleague Bob Bennett lose his seat). But I read Yoo’s article to imply that only purist nuts have reservations about Hatch—and that’s just false.

* Update: Yoo did have a sentence specifying a few of the conservative objections, so I shouldn’t have said that he didn’t mention them. But I don’t think he can be said to have dealt with them adequately.

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