Sen. Hatch warns Obama of fight over Supreme Court pick

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch warned President Barack Obama on Friday that he will face a “whale of a fight” in the Senate if he nominates an activist judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice John Stevens announced his retirement Friday, and Hatch quickly called a news conference to suggest Obama needs to pick someone with significant bipartisan support in his second selection to the high court. “I have hopes that President Obama will at least try to appoint somebody who will get a huge bipartisan vote, and if he will, he’s going to go down in history as a better president,” Hatch said. “If he doesn’t, there’s going to be a whale of a fight if he appoints an activist to the court. That’s not good for him, it’s not good for the Senate, it’s not good for the country.” Hatch sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and voted against Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, who overcame opposition to become a justice. He’s also been critical of Obama’s appeals court nominees, saying he’s voted against more of Obama’s nominees than those of former Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter’s put together. “He has a propensity to choose people who don’t care what the law is. They’re going to make the law from the bench. Judges are not supposed to that,” Hatch said. Hatch said he wouldn’t necessarily dismiss a judge with a liberal background as a viable option, noting he supported Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination by Clinton. He also praised some unspecified opinions written by Stevens, the court’s leading liberal justice, and Justice Stephen Breyer, another Clinton appointee. “I don’t want to vote against anybody. I’d prefer to vote for them. In fact, I did not feel good about voting against judge, now Justice Sotomayor, but her record was one of activist,” Hatch said. He said he has some candidates in mind. “I’m not going to mention their names because it would be the kiss of death to them, probably,” he said.

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