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Orrin H.
Republican UT

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  • Filling the Supreme Court Vacancy

    by Senator Orrin G. Hatch

    Posted on 2016-02-25

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    HATCH. Madam President, before I begin, let me note that I have been very concerned about the tenor of the debate. I am very upset that yesterday my dear friend, the minority leader, yesterday attacked my other dear friend, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, by calling him inept as a committee chairman. There is no reason for that kind of language on the floor, even if it were true, which it is not, and I think the minority leader knows it is not true.

    Senator Grassley is one of the most effective, hard-working, decent Senators in the U.S. Senate. He is not an attorney, and yet he has run the Judiciary Committee as well as any chairman that I recall in my 40 years here. Everybody knows he treats people fairly. So I hope we can get rid of that kind of language and start treating people with decency and with regard. We differ widely with the Democrats on this issue and on other issues, but we are not slandering them. If a Republican behaved similarly, I would stand up to him. It just shouldn't happen.

    On Tuesday, I rose to honor the memory of the late Justice Antonin [[Page S1026]] Scalia, whom I knew quite well. With his passing, the Nation lost one of its greatest Supreme Court Justices ever to have served, and I lost a dear friend.

    Today, I rise to make the case that the next President should chose the nominee to replace Justice Scalia. As we embark on this debate, our first task should be to situate properly the Senate's role in seating members of the judiciary as well as the reasons for the role. In doing so, let me invoke an approach that Justice Scalia himself employed to make the same point.

    In addressing audiences, the late Justice often asked: What part of our Constitution was most important in protecting the liberties of the people? Invariably, audiences would provide answers such as protections for the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the like.

    Justice Scalia, like the vast majority of Americans, agreed that these protections are obviously important. I certainly do, too. Nevertheless, he always made one crucial observation: Even the most repressive dictatorships, such as the Soviet Union and North Korea, typically have provisions akin to our Bill of Rights in their Constitutions. Simply enshrining these basic rights in constitutional text does not ensure their protection.

    I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to complete my remarks.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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