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Sen. Orrin Hatch Weighs in on the Alito Vote

Marhis is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: First, our top story tonight, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines today to approve the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito and send it to the full Senate for debate. But Democrats still had their chance to get in their last licks before the lights went out in the hearing room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I cannot vote for this nomination. At a time when the president is seizing unprecedented power, the Supreme Court needs to act as a check and to provide balance.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The record demonstrates that we cannot count on Judge Alito to blow the whistle when the president is out of bounds. He is a long-standing advocate for expanding executive power, even at the expense of core individual liberties.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: If one is pro-choice, in this day and age, in this structure, one can't vote for Judge Alito. It is simply that simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Joining us now, one of the Republican members of the committee, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. And we would also like to note that not a single Democratic member of that committee accepted our invitation to appear on tonight's show and defend their votes.

Senator Hatch, welcome back to the program.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, nice to be with both of you.

HANNITY: Well, you know, it's very interesting to me. You just heard that there's a litmus test. You know, Senator, look, I may not be as gracious as you. And I mean this sincerely.

(LAUGHTER)

You were very gracious about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, about Judge Breyer. You compare the treatment of the Republicans to people that I believe are very out of the mainstream. And I'm just wondering: Is it time for Republicans that are nice like yourself to start taking the gloves off, if there's another Democratic president? Look at how they treated this man. I don't think they — I think they had made up their mind before they even got in committee, am I right?

HATCH: Well, there really was shabby treatment. There's no question about it. This was the first time in history for a nominee who reported out of the committee that there was a straight partisan vote. It's never happened before.

And frankly, to do that to this fellow, who had the support, you know, of virtually everybody who's ever worked with him, including seven of his colleagues, including, you know, both Democrats and Republicans, on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, who said that he's a tremendous judge, including the American Bar Association, that gave him the highest rating possible twice now. And, you know, it's really pathetic. I'm really concerned about it.

HANNITY: Senator, maybe I'm wrong, though, on the other hand. I'm playing devil's advocate with myself here. But maybe seeing Ted Kennedy as the face of the Democratic Party and, you know, he's questioning Judge Alito, but he belongs to an all-male club, a Harvard alumni club, or maybe watching the pontifications of Joe Biden, maybe that's a good thing for the Republicans. Is it? I mean, politically speaking, did they hurt themselves?

HATCH: Well, I think they've hurt themselves, because I think that the arguments against Judge Alito are ridiculous. You know, he participated in over 5,000 cases. He wrote over 350 opinions.

You can find opinions from the left to the right that he's participated in. He hasn't been ideological. In fact, the most liberal former judge who served with him on the court said that he never saw any indication that Judge Alito was ideological in all the 15 years he was on the court. He probably has the greatest record of anybody in the last 70 years for the Supreme Court of the United States.

HANNITY: You predicted that it would probably be a party-line vote in committee. Lindsey Graham predicted it would probably be a party-line vote. You guys were saying this before these hearings even started. What do you predict is going to happen when this goes before the full Senate? Do you expect every Republican? Where's Lincoln Chafee going to be? Where's Susan Collins going to be? Where's Olympia Snowe going to be in this vote?

HATCH: Well, I think the Republicans will vote for Judge Alito. He certainly has a reputation. But to make a long story short, the Democrats are almost going to vote en masse against him. I think they're terrified that, you know, if Alito and Roberts vote to overrule Roe vs. Wade that they'll all suffer at the polls.

Well, I have no indications that they're going to overrule Roe vs. Wade. I don't know what they're going to do. All I can say is they are conservative, but they're very good judges. They respect the principle of stare decisis, and they both said so. And, frankly, you know, I do think, though, that there will be some restrictions on abortion that really most people in this country would agree to and, in fact, an overwhelming number of people would agree to.

ESTRICH: I'd like to welcome you, Senator Hatch. It's nice to see you, by the way.

HATCH: Nice to talk to you again, Susan.

ESTRICH: Senator, you don't have any doubt that Judge Alito will be confirmed, do you?

HATCH: I don't. I think he'll be confirmed, but it's going to be, you know, three or four days of anguish on the floor by the Democrats.

ESTRICH: Yes.

HATCH: And, you know, it all comes down, Susan, to abortion. You know it; I know it. They're just terrified of these far-left groups that just seem to control the Democrats in the United States Senate. It's pathetic.

When the far-right groups came to me as chairman of the committee and demanded that we — that we mistreat Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, I told them, "Get out of the office." We're not going to let them determine what our votes are, and we're not going to play that type of ridiculous game.

And Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed 96-3, even though we knew she was pro- abortion, even though she was, in our opinion, wrong on the social issues. Same thing with Judge Breyer, Justice Breyer. He passed 87-9. I mean, we treated them fairly, and that's in contrast of the way this really fine man is being treated.

ESTRICH: Well, I agree with you. But what do you make of Karl Rove turning around and saying that Democrats have a pre-9/11 mentality? I mean, my friends, frankly, went berserk and said, you know, he's accusing us of not caring about terrorism. Doesn't that build on the same sort of animosity that's going on here?

HATCH: Well, I think there are some real legitimate, you know, disputes and differences between Democrats and Republicans, with regards to national security. But, you know, the Democrats are trying to jump on some of these issues, like the NSA issue.

Let's be honest about it. I think the vast majority of people in this country want the president to do whatever he can to interdict and stop, you know, the Al Qaeda people and to use whatever is at his disposal.

Now, there are legitimate questions as to whether or not the president has complied with the law and whether he has these inherent powers under Article II of the Constitution, and whether, under the Fourth Amendment these are reasonable searches and seizures.

I think they're legitimate questions. And I think they'll be resolved in the eyes of the public, as they are being right now, basically in favor of the president, as probably they should. We want the president to do whatever he can to protect this homeland of ours, and that's one of his principal obligations.

ESTRICH: But do you think there's a role for Congress in there, Senator? I heard you mentioned the Fourth Amendment.

HATCH: Sure, I do. And Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, of course. Now, for the Democrats, they're saying, "Well, the president has to — regardless of his inherent abilities, regardless of the Fourth Amendment, he has an obligation to comply with FISA."

Well, he does comply with FISA. But we're talking about — General Hayden, who said it was really, really difficult under some circumstances to do what they have to do to protect us.

HANNITY: Got to run, Senator. Good to see you.

HATCH: OK, good to see you.

HANNITY: And we'll be watching this debate closely. Thanks for being with us.

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