Sen. Hatch: Roe "Settled Opinion," A "False Concern" So Democrats Can Vote Against Kavanaugh


Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said it is a "false concern" that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe. v. Wade with a Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the bench. On Tuesday's edition of PBS NewsHour, Hatch called it a "settled opinion."

While many conservatives would like to see Roe overturned, Hatch said, Kavanaugh is going to have "bigger fish to fry."

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: Senator Hatch, welcome to the "NewsHour."

The last justice nominated by President Trump, Neil Gorsuch, last year was confirmed by the Senate, what was it, by a 54-45 vote, three Democrats in favor. Is Judge Kavanaugh going to have an easier or harder time?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): Well, I think he should have an easier time, but I don't know. It's become such a politicized process by the Democrats, I have to say, and even some Republicans, that who knows.

But I hope that he can get a number of Democrats to vote for him, because he's just one of the most outstanding candidates for the court that could possibly be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the Democrats are saying they plan to go through all of his writings, something, what is it, over 3,000 opinions, 300 on the appeals court alone. Is that a fair request?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Yes. Yes, they're entitled to do that.

On the other hand, if they think that he's got to write or he should have written what they think he should have written, that's not fair either, because any two people can look at things in a different way.

But I think the Democrats, hopefully, they will be a little more open to voting for him this time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you know, Senator, the Democrats are saying they're going to fight this nomination. They're already pointing to their worry and Roe v. Wade, about whether it will be overturned.

And particularly they're pointing to a decision that Judge Kavanaugh wrote pretty recently that wouldn't have allowed a young immigrant woman to access an abortion.

Are they right to be concerned about that?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: No, but the fact of the matter is that seems to be the single, sole issue that they're interested in.

I think they have more interests than that, but every time we get to one of these judgeship nominations, that becomes the single, sole issue to Democrats.

I wish we could move off of that and count on people we know are honest, we know they're decent, we know they have the intelligence, and he has all these things, and we know that, yes, he's in a different party, but the party is now in the majority, and he ought to have support.

But, you know, it's gotten so political around here that they even politicize these type of nominations. And that's, I think, wrong.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Can you guarantee Democrats, though, Senator, that, if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, that Roe v. Wade wouldn't be overturned?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well, I don't think anybody is going to overturn Roe vs. Wade. It's a settled opinion that, yes, a lot of conservatives would like to see it overturned, but, actually, he's got bigger fish to fry.

He's going to have all he can handle to handle current cases that come before the court. So I doubt seriously that that's really a legitimate concern. I think it becomes a false concern, so that they can vote against people like this good judge.

And, frankly, I think it's pathetic that one issue like that would cause an otherwise really outstanding person to have the Democrats go against them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the Democrats are also talking, Senator, about the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. As you know, it's been weakened under the Trump administration.

Democrats say they worry that, as issues move up to the Supreme Court, that Judge Kavanaugh would move to weaken it even further. Is that what you would expect?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well, that is one of the most convoluted, huge messes that we have done in recent years.

It's going to need a lot of work in the future by both Democrats and Republicans, if we're going to not bankrupt our country. So it becomes an excuse to just tear apart a nominee's reputation that I think -- I find really reprehensible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other quick things, Senator.

As you know, Judge Kavanaugh wrote a law review article in which he argued that presidents shouldn't be subject to indictment, to subpoena even. Are you -- and they look at that as something that would have -- that President Trump would have viewed favorably because of the investigations that he's dealing with right now.

How do you see that?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well, they're not saying he can't be incited after he leaves office. They're saying, while he's in office, his office shouldn't be interfered with unless there's some really, really bad thing that happens.

So I don't know many people who would disagree with what some of the Republicans feel in that regard. But I think that's an overblown issue that really shouldn't even be part of this discussion, although I don't blame people for raising it, if they want to.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, finally, are you concerned about the handful of Republican Senators who are said to potentially have some problems with Judge Kavanaugh on a number of issues, Susan Collins, senator from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, even Rand Paul from Kentucky?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well, that's par for the course.

I mean, you're always going to have some Republicans and Democrats who wish that the judge would meet every standard that they set. But that's not realistic. That's not the way the country operates.

If we demanded that everybody be exactly the way I am, that's not -- that's not right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But this is so close, you can't afford to lose any Republicans, can you?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: No, we can't afford to lose any, and I don't think we will, but you never know.

All I can say is that there are a lot of phony issues that come up around these Supreme Court nominations, but, in this particular case, I mean, I think they're going to find that this man is not only a really fine, great man, and a good family man and a very intelligent judge, but that he can do a very, very good job on the court.

And, you know, that's all we can ask for, it seems to me.

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