IS THERE ANY DOUBT HOW HATCH WOULD HAVE VOTED?…. Following up on the last item, Republicans spent a surprising amount of time yesterday going after a revered Supreme Court justice, the late Thurgood Marshall, as a way of undermining Elena Kagan. It’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge a point that’s probably pretty obvious.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) kept up the message of the day on MSNBC, taking a harsh tone towards the Marshall legacy. “Let’s admire the man for the great things he did, but let’s not walk over and wipe out the things that really didn’t make sense as an obedient student of the practice of law,” Hatch said, adding there was “no doubt he was an activist judge.”
It prompted the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Thomas Burr to ask a reasonable question.
I caught up with Hatch after today’s confirmation hearing to ask an obvious question: Would Hatch have voted for Marshall?
“Well, it’s hard to say,” Hatch said.
Hatch — who, of course, wasn’t in the Senate in 1967 when the vote took place — said Marshall deserves “tremendous respect because he fought so hard for civil rights,” and he should be honored for bringing about the transformation that allowed black Americans to be able to vote.
Still, he added, “When he got on the bench, there’s no question that he at times went a very activist route. That can’t be complemented [sic]. But you’ve got to compliment the man for the courage, and conviction and leadership he provided.”
Let me give Hatch a hand with this. No, if Thurgood Marshall were nominated for the Supreme Court today, Hatch would probably filibuster him. It’s not “hard to say”; it’s easy to say. Marshall was a giant of 20th century liberalism, and today’s Republican Party is practically hysterical in its conservatism. It’s obviously speculative, but how can there be any doubt over how GOP senators would view Marshall?
Indeed, this can, and probably should, be taken much further. Would Hatch and his Republican colleagues have voted for Social Security? Or Medicare? Or the Clean Air Act? Or the parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that applied to private enterprise?
Would they have voted to confirm Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was approved on a 96 to 3 vote in 1993?
Would they have voted to nominate Ronald Reagan for the GOP presidential nomination? Or H.W. Bush? Or Eisenhower?
The answers to all of these questions seem pretty obvious. It’s not “hard to say” at all. In each instance, the answer is “of course not.”