‘Mormon Land’: How Orrin Hatch transformed the political loyalties of Latter-day Saints

They now rank among the most reliably Republican voting blocs. The late Utah senator also helped shape a conservative Supreme Court that appears ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Orrin Hatch, shown in 2018, died last month. The late senator ranks among the most important and influential political figures in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He defeated a popular Democratic senator, arguing that three terms were enough, and then proceeded to serve more than twice as long (seven terms) — longer than any Republican in Senate history.

During those 42 years, this conservative loyalist teamed up with a liberal lion, Sen. Ted Kennedy, to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Americans with Disability Act.

He eventually became among the staunchest defenders of Donald Trump, shepherding through a major tax overhaul and helping to shape the conservative majority of today’s Supreme Court. These justices appear poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which gave women a constitutional right to abortion.

Through it all, Orrin Hatch, who died April 23 at age 88, often touted his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and championed the cause of religious liberty.

In fact, historian Benjamin Park says in a recent Washington Post piece, Hatch helped transform the nation’s Latter-day Saints into one of the most reliably red voting blocs.

On this week’s show, Park discusses the late senator, his influence, his politics, his piety and his place in history.

Listen here:

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