Republican Judiciary Committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was asked today on CNN if he agreed with Newt Gingrich that Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a racist. Hatch said, “No, I don’t agree with that.” The only thing that the GOP can agree on is that they don’t agree with each other on anything.
Here is the video courtesy of Think Progress:
Hatch said, “No, I don’t agree with that and frankly I think it is a little premature and early, because she hasn’t had a chance to explain some of these comments that she has made. Some of her comments are very troubling, and some of them do smack of a judge that wants to make law from the bench. I think we have to be fair. I think we have to do what is normally done, and that is scrutinize the record, look at the opinions the unwritten opinions, the articles, the speeches, the various comments that have been made and so forth, and do it fairly.”
Hatch is the ranking minority member, and he has sat on the Judiciary Committee for decades. He knows what he is talking about. Although it is extremely unlikely that he will vote for Sotomayor, I think anyone can respect him, if he bases his decision on a dislike of her judicial philosophy, not slurs and insults. If the Republicans follow Hatch’s lead and base their opposition on her record, there will be little political fallout.
The worst thing that Senate Republicans could do would be to take up the cause of Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh. Senate Republicans would be dooming themselves if they make the Sotomayor confirmation about either gender or race. She is likely going to be confirmed, so what is the point of alienating more Hispanic voters?
Hatch’s comments are an example of why I think Sotomayor will split the Senate Republicans. My conservative estimate is that she will win confirmation with between 66 and 68 votes, but if she does really well at her hearing, she could break 70.