Sen. Orrin Hatch added a new reason Thursday to why he says Democrats are trying to block Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court: “They hate the fact that Hillary [Clinton] was beaten, and especially by Donald Trump.”
But “I love the fact that she was beaten, and especially by Donald Trump,” he said during a speech at Utah’s conservative Sutherland Institute think tank.
Hatch, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, continued attacks on Democrats for what he says is their politicizing of judicial nominations while contending Republicans bear little blame. Last week, that included decrying what he called Democrats’ “dumbass” politics.
On Thursday, he said Democrats started souring the process during the 1980s with nominations of William Rehnquist (who was confirmed) and Robert Bork (who was not), and he said they turned Bork’s name into an infamous verb.
“To bork public officials is to vilify them for political gain. It is to strip them of their humanity, to tear their public image into shreds and to depict them as evil incarnate,” he said. That is “exactly what Democrats are attempting to do to Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”
“Many on the left have completely lost their minds and composure” about the judge, he said.
He asserted that one opponent proclaimed that Kavanaugh’s confirmation “would result in the destruction of the Constitution,” another warned the judge “would pave the path to tyranny,” and a third said anyone who supports Kavanaugh “is complicit in evil.”
“If you didn’t know better, you would think President Trump nominated a war criminal,” Hatch said. “He nominated one of the nation’s finest judges.”
Hatch asserted, “We [Republicans] treated their nominees fairly. But they are not treating our nominee in this case, and others, very fairly.”
When asked if Republicans are guilty of the same politics by blocking Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016, Hatch said it was different because “that was right before a presidential election…. It was a key position they wanted to fill before the presidential election, which just wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Garland was nominated seven months before the election that year. Before his nomination, Hatch called Garland a “fine man” and said there was “no question” he would be confirmed if nominated. Then he adopted the GOP line at the time that the confirmation process should wait until after the election.
Hatch conceded amid questions Thursday that Garland’s nomination “was politicized, no question about it — but not by me. I was willing to support Merrick Garland.”
Unlike some Republican senators, Hatch met with Garland, but in an essay accidentally published before it occurred, wrote that the meeting hadn’t changed his conviction that no hearing should be held for the nominee.
On Thursday, Hatch said, “In a rational world, Judge Kavanaugh would be confirmed swiftly and overwhelmingly. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a rational world — at least not when it comes to the Supreme Court.”
He said Kavanaugh’s rulings have shown that he is “an impartial judge” who carefully follows the law even if he disagrees with it, as opposed to “a political judge” who legislates from the bench.
“If Trump really wanted to cause a furor, he could have picked any number of other people who would have been much more controversial,” he said.
Hatch also praised Trump, saying “he has the guts and intestinal fortitude to take on some of the big problems we have in our society.” The senator pledged to “do everything in my power” to help Trump win reelection.
Amid all the political fighting, Hatch said Kavanaugh will become the “most thoroughly vetted nominee” ever.
Democrats contend Republicans are trying to push a vote through before the Senate is provided nearly a million pages of documents from when Kavanaugh worked in the George W. Bush White House as staff secretary. Republicans shrug off Democrats' records demands as a delaying tactic.
“Judge Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed,” Hatch said. “He’s going to be confirmed because he’s qualified. He’s respected. And he is a good and decent person.”