Orrin Hatch: Why the appointment of federal judges is so important

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  • goodnight-goodluck Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2017 9:51 a.m.

    Thid Barker - Victor, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:29 a.m.

    @Edgar: Check the constitution. It the SCOTUS to declare presidential elections final! That is not legislating. Nice try, but no cigar!

    funny thid that's what hillary said when asked how weinstein stacked up to bill.....

  • goodnight-goodluck Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2017 7:52 a.m.

    Agreed Senator, so how do you justify approving Mr. Trumps most recent appointee that has never tried a case in his career and who's most impressive accomplishment seems to be his study of paranormal activity.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Nov. 15, 2017 5:50 a.m.

    OHBU wrote, "The brazenness is astounding. It's one thing to act in a contradictory manner, but to go out of your way to write an op-ed condemning the very political gaming you are most guilty of is quite another."

    Amen x 1,000.

  • Selznik Saint George, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 4:43 p.m.

    This article makes it clear (if any more proof were needed) that Orrin Hatch is just another party hack, toeing the Republican line and putting party before country. And Utah has been re-electing him for a long, long time. The responsibility really rests with the Utah electorate. This is sad from so many angles.

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 4:38 p.m.

    UTPolitico - Bountiful, UT

    "What amazes me is that the appointment of theses judges are now very important, but for the past 8 years, it was not important."

    Funny inst it. Its like the inverse of the debt.
    Now that republicans are in charge of the budget the debt doesnt matter but just one year ago the debt was going to be the death us all. But I guess tax cuts for millionaires are more important. You have to have priorities.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 3:44 p.m.

    If the American Bar Association rates a judicial candidate "unqualified," he (and it's always a he) should not be seated on any federal court. It's plain and simple, as my conservative friends like to say.

  • itsaconspiracy Provo, Utah
    Nov. 14, 2017 3:38 p.m.

    I for one am glad that congress did not vote on Garland. Obama was just itching to appoint one more like minded justice to the bench. Obviously Orrin Hatch is not well liked among many and I too see that he needs to retire, but he is right about this topic. Qualified judges, who will interpret the law as it is written is what this country needs in order for our liberties and freedoms to be upheld.

    The danger in judges legislating from the bench in an effort to twist the law to something other than what the people intended, will eventually lead to rebellion.

    The 2nd amendment will be debated for years and I am glad it is being upheld. The way I see it, is that the people's right to bear arms would include just about any arms that they can possess. Back in the founder's day, the arms at the time, whether military or private, were all pretty much on par with each other. The purpose of the article was to prevent government from taking arms from private citizens, which had been done for years in other parts of the world and was always an order from a judge, magistrate or some other corrupt leader.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Nov. 14, 2017 3:08 p.m.

    It would appear that Sen Hatch's constituents know the arguments he has made reek of pious hypocrisy. Is this the kind of man you wish to represent you in the Federal Capitol? And stand beside that awful man residing @ 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? To belong to the party of Ex-judge Moore rightly accused of pedophilia in Alabama?

    Now, Utahns, rid the Senate of the person. Or is that asking too much of you for the good of the rest of the 300 million people in this country?

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    Nov. 14, 2017 2:54 p.m.

    Sen. Hatch's column is a joke, unworthy of serious comment.

    Re: judicial activism, I agree that Heller (Scalia for majority) is a great example: Scalia worked backwards from his preferred policy outcome, building an intricate legal edifice of his own design, unfettered by his so-called "Originalism".

    Until SCOTUS fleshes-out Heller, the ONLY right protected under the 2nd Amend is the ownership of a normal handgun or shotgun for the sole purpose of self-defense in the home.

    How did Scalia get such weirdly specific yet unrecognizable interpretation?

    Per Federalist Society ideology, Scalia wanted the 2nd Amend to protect an individual right, not the collective right suggested by the Founders. Scalia used Heller to correct the Founders' confusing word-choice, like permanent white-out dabbed over phrase "regulated militia".

    As wealthy conservative, Scalia also enjoyed America's social and economic status quo. He did not want the disgruntled and unwashed masses to EVER achieve parity with soldiers to be called-up to quash a rebellion So Scalia included some loud dicta emphasizing how the 2nd Amend does not grant a right to own or use "dangerous and unusual" weapons.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Nov. 14, 2017 2:14 p.m.

    OK DN Subscriber, now you have to tell us when Democrats established a policy like the one Republicans used against Merrill Garland. And please don’t suggest Robert Bork. He got a hearing.

  • kolob1 Sandy, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 2:13 p.m.

    Republicans don't want qualified judges. they make think for themselves. As long as the Bar Association has labeled them "not qualified" then Republicans like Hatch will groom them and write their decisions for them when the time comes.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 2:10 p.m.

    Hatch purposely held up appointments made by President Obama. This man is a complete hypocrite.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 14, 2017 1:38 p.m.

    Hatch is not the legislator he once was. I hardly recognize the man anymore. He and Ted Kennedy once famously worked together to build bi-partisan support on key bills before Congress. Now he’s resigned to party line rigidity. Maybe just getting tired.

    Somewhere along the way, Hatch lost the meaning. The problem he can’t fathom is that the GOP is now reaping the bitter fruits it sowed during the Obama years when Mitch McConnell martialed granite-like opposition to everything Obama.

  • bheiner Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 12:59 p.m.

    Hypocrisy, thy name is Orrin Hatch. Not only did you deny an eminently qualified judge for a vote for the Supreme Court, but you and your committee gave a vote of approval to a potential federal judge who was determined to be "unqualified" by the American Bar Association, but one who has had no courtroom experience whatsoever, let alone judicial experience. The hypocrisy is simply staggering.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 12:51 p.m.

    Pious sentiments now, but Hatch voted to confirm "the wise Latina" and Ms. Kagan as Justices despite their exceptionally political backgrounds. He is great at campaigning, but his actions do not follow his promises.

    His going along with the delay on Garland confirmation was a repeat of the policy adopted by the Democrats, so give him a pass on that.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Hatch, have you lead your 99 fellow Senators to pass the FY 2018 appropriations bills yet, which were supposed to be done 6 weeks ago?

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Nov. 14, 2017 12:09 p.m.

    The brazenness is astounding. It's one thing to act in a contradictory manner, but to go out of your way to write an op-ed condemning the very political gaming you are most guilty of is quite another.

    Hatch refused to even allow discussion, much less a vote, on an eminently qualified judge--now he's shocked there is resistance to filling judicial appointments.

    He has voted in favor of several nominees who are clearly, and potentially dangerously, unqualified for the post to which they were nominated, and yet he's going to take umbrage to another Senator's votes.

    It's truly sad. While I haven't always agreed with his politics, Hatch used to be one of those guys who I felt was willing to consider arguments, reach across the aisle, and do what he felt was best for the country. Now he appears so fearful of being primaried, he has thrown away that entire legacy.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    Nov. 14, 2017 12:01 p.m.


    In September the Trump administration nominated a new judge for a vacancy in the US District Court in Alabama, which has been open for more than 2 years due to GOP intransigence. The nominee has been a member of the bar for 3 years, has minimal substantive legal experience, and has never tried a case. The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which offers non-partisan recommendations on judicial nominees, unanimously determined the nominee to be "not qualified" - a rare conclusion, but not the first received for Trump's nominees.

    Last week you and the other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination for a vote by the full Senate.

    Yesterday revealed that the nominee failed to disclose the potential conflict of interest posed by his wife's position in the White House, which also explains why he came out of nowhere for a nomination in the first place.

    Your words ring hollow if this is your idea of the importance of the federal judiciary. You owe your constituents, the people of Alabama, and the citizens of this country an explanation for advancing a clearly unqualified nominee for confirmation.

  • Edgar Samaria, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 11:41 a.m.

    Thid Barker - I think you might have had a typo or two because I can't really make out what you were trying to say. But looking at the WhiteHouse.gov website it says this under "Elections and Voting""

    "Federal elections are administered by state and local governments, although the specifics of how elections are conducted differ between the states. The Constitution and laws of the United States grant the states wide latitude in how they administer elections."

    "Federal elections are administered by the state..." So what was the Supreme Court doing mixed up in a state election. What was their standing?

    Their standing was nowhere, that's where, and that case was the supreme case of judicial activism if there ever was one. If you have evidence to the contrary, please state it, chapter and verse.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 11:14 a.m.

    Trump want so appoint a man to be a judge that has never tried a case. So yes Orrin it is very important. Too bad you support political hacks for judges instead of qualified people. Trumps picks are all white men by the way. I guess they could not find a woman or minority that had actually been in a courtroom before.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:58 a.m.


    It is your opinion that judges legislate from the bench. Just because you do not like a ruling does not mean it is judicial activism.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:51 a.m.

    "Some presidents, however, have appointed political judges who twist the law into what they want it to be; some of these judges reach certain decisions to further an ideological agenda. "
    All modern presidents have done this, and we've let them. Our courts are nothing if not unimpeachable political entities. We know the outcome of most supreme court cases, including the votes, beforehand. How is this possible if the body is supposed to be an impartial arbiter of the law?
    We see judges as liberal or conservative, republican or democrat. This is unacceptable, and we should expect and demand impartiality of them.

  • silo Sandy, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:40 a.m.

    "With nearly 140 life-tenured judicial positions vacant..." - orrin hatch

    Gee Mr. Hatch, do you think that perhaps the 140 vacant positions had anything to do with the fact that the Republican led congress blocked more Obama appointees than were blocked for all previous presidents combined?

    And contrary to Thid Barker's claims, Obama's appointees were never given the courtesy of a Senate review to determine if they were 'leftist'. They were blocked regardless of their credentials or record, simply because they were Obama's appointees, just like Merrick Garland at the SCOTUS level was.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:29 a.m.

    @Edgar: Check the constitution. It the SCOTUS to declare presidential elections final! That is not legislating. Nice try, but no cigar!

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:16 a.m.

    RE: " . . . religious freedom, central to the very identity of this country, has become so compromised. "

    But not for long!

    Republican leadership is changing that! Donald (grab 'em by the wherever) Trump and Judge Roy Moore are removing the fetters from Religious Freedom.

    Soon, pedophilia and sexual assault will no longer be crimes! And we can live as God intended!

    “ . . . take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. . . There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here.”

    -Ron Ziegler, Alabama state auditor

    And when was the last time you stoned a witch to death? . . . Or a sodomite? Don't worry, holy justice will once again reign supreme, and the wicked will tremble!

    Blessed are the Holy Trinity -- Judge Roy Moore, President Donald Trump, and Senator Orrin Hatch.


  • Edgar Samaria, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 10:13 a.m.

    This Barker said, "@ Esquire: You claim you have seen right wing judges and Scalia legislate from the bench! Can you please give us an example? Just one?"

    Here's just one of many - Bush vs. Gore. If you don't think this was a political/partisan decision just imagine the tables being turned with Al Gore being the apparent winner. Can you see Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas bringing this case to the highest court.

    One of the most blatantly partisan statements of the majority opinion was ""Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities."

    In other words, they were saying their decision could not be used as precedent for future cases, but only limited to that case. The whole judicial process is based on precedent. This is clear evidence they know they were ruling against sound legal process, yet they did it anyway.

  • Edgar Samaria, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 9:44 a.m.

    What the good Senator has to say is all well and good but let's look at how he and his fellow Senators have put those words to practice. Mention has already been made of the hypocrisy of the entire Republican Senate who blatantly (and some might suggest unconstitutionally) blocked the nomination of Justice Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy of Justice Scalia who died a full eleven months before the new president took office. Senator Hatch was one of the most outspoken Senators praising Senator Garland before President Obama nominated him.

    But let's look at what's going on today. President Trump has nominated Brent Tally to be a federal district judge in Alabama. When filling out his Senate questionnaire he was asked to identify any family members who"might present a conflict of interest" and he neglected to mention that his wife is the chief of staff for White Counsel Donald McGahn. He has never tried a court case. The American Bar Association gave him an almost unheard of "not-qualified" rating.

    Yet his nomination on Thursday sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party line vote. So let's talk about that Republican stand on non-political justice.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 9:33 a.m.

    "Some presidents, however, have appointed political judges who twist the law into what they want it to be; some of these judges reach certain decisions to further an ideological agenda."

    This is a perfect description of the 5 Supreme Court justices who, in District of Columbia v. Heller, overturned two centuries of understanding of the Second Amendment and gave us the NRA utopia we now enjoy. By ignoring the court's long precedent and the actual wording of the amendment, these justices basically opened the floodgates to the increasing number of mass shootings we've seen in recent years.

    These were conservative "activist" judges, creating a new interpretation of law out of thin air. If you want a good critique of this decision, read Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion, available at the Cornell Law School website. (And he's a Republican appointee!)

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 9:18 a.m.

    @ Esquire: You claim you have seen right wing judges and Scalia legislate from the bench! Can you please give us an example? Just one?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 14, 2017 9:06 a.m.

    "Congress approves or rejects any of his nominations! That's how it works in America."
    How it works in America is regrettably not always how it's intended to work under the Constitution. In the case of Merrick Garland, Congress neither approved nor rejected a man whom Senator Hatch had highly recommended for the high Court. Simply put, the Republican Congress calculatedly neglected to carry out its assigned Constitutional duty.

  • kolob1 Sandy, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:59 a.m.

    Hatch has lost all credibility. He is trying to stack the deck because he must be aware that his brand is dying off and a new political reality is coming to America. He is trying to preempt the future with these Judges that were obviously not needed when Obama was president. His tenure is a sham and had been for many years now. I remember when he was replaced as Chairman of Judiciary Committee when Democrats has d the majority. He was screaming to the high heavens that there should be no litmus tests on Judges. Ten minutes after he re-acscended the Chairmanship he stated that it was necessary to set guidelines (litmus tests) in order to protect Americans (conservative Americans).

  • at long last. . . Kirksville , MO
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:56 a.m.

    One needs to go no farther than the decisions by the judges in the 9th Circuit court to see the obvious need for judges who interpret the laws and don't try to inject personal political views into it and make obvious politically motivated unconstitutional decisions which are later overturned by SCOTUS. That is why the Harry Reid packing of the lower federal courts a few years ago will take a very long time to overcome.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:55 a.m.

    @ Thid, I've seen right wing judges legislate from the bench. In fact, it was especially bad when Scalia was still on the bench. I can cite cases.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:53 a.m.

    Hatch's hypocrisy on this topic is way off the charts. His holier-than-thou attitude, as long as he gets his way, is disgusting.

    How about that Merrick Garland thing? Or how about his support of a partisan political guy as a judicial nominee with only three years legal experience and never been involved in a trial? How is that good for America?

    Hatch is playing games with us, and his tactics are very distasteful. And I say that as someone who has had a friendship with him for years.

  • Lee Harvey Osmond Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:50 a.m.

    So important that you voted for Brett Talley in Alabama, who has a "not qualified" rating from the American Bar Association.

    So important that you voted for a 36-year old who has never tried a case and has only been practicing law for 3 years.

    So important that you voted to put in a man whose only qualification seems to be that he was a prominent right wing blogger.

    Save your sermon for Sunday, Orrin. You don't represent the people. You represent the Republican party, first and always. You are a disgrace.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:41 a.m.

    @ Craig Clark: Appointment of left wing activist federal judges who think they can legislate from the bench? Nope! That's congress' job to write laws, at least if we are going to follow the constitution! It is also the constitutional right of every POTUS to nominate ANY judge he chooses, just like Obama did! Congress approves or rejects any of his nominations! That's how it works in America.

  • UTPolitico Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:35 a.m.

    What amazes me is that the appointment of theses judges are now very important, but for the past 8 years, it was not important. No wonder why there are so many seats that need to be filled.

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:31 a.m.

    Wow, Orrin Hatch lecturing us on how political judicial nominees have become. One of the guys who simply refused to consider President Obamas nominee for the USSC. Hatch himself had previously heaped praise on Garland. Hatch kneecapped this guy all so that the most unprepared and unqualified president ever elected could nominate an uber reich wing judge.

    "The First Amendment was drafted so that the prohibition on an “establishment of religion” would be narrow and the guarantee of the “free exercise of religion” would be broad."

    On what basis do you make this claim? Its a wonder why, if what you claim is true, that some of the greatest minds in our history didnt just spell that out in the constitution. Much like the silly claim that future senator Roy Moore (does hatch support moore?) makes that the USA is a 'christian country'. Fact is this is just an interpretation that hatch wishes to be the case. If the founders wanted that they could have put it in there.

    We will get to see how committed hatch is. Soon I bet he will vote to confirm a 30 year old federal judge who has only been a lawyer for 3 years, never a judge.

    Hatch, putting party before principal and country, again.

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:25 a.m.

    Imagine that, judges are supposed to apply the law, not interpret it! Let's be honest. Many now believe that the Constitution is old fashioned, out of date, and archaic. So, again for those who can't be honest. Just admit that you like communism, Socialism, Oligarchies, and dictators. If we could at least get people to be honest, we might be able to engage them in a discussion about the future of our country. Instead, they hide behind their progressive ideas, as if they just want 'justice', 'equality', and 'fairness', but what they really want is power, power to destroy 'unalienable' rights that come from a 'creator'. Oh, now we come to the pinnacle of their rage; those rights granted by the 'creator'. We must get rid of that foolish, archaic, and 'clingy' phrase (not).

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 14, 2017 8:17 a.m.

    "Some presidents, however, have appointed political judges who twist the law into what they want it to be; some of these judges reach certain decisions to further an ideological agenda."
    That can be said of U.S. Senators who denied Merrick Garland a vote or even a hearing so that they could deliver the selection to a President of their ideological persuasion. Now, from astride his high horse, Senator Hatch condescends to us.