Orrin Hatch

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Orrin Hatch
Orrin Hatch official photo, 2015.jpg
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byPatrick Leahy
Succeeded byChuck Grassley
United States Senator
from Utah
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byFrank Moss
Succeeded byMitt Romney
Chairman of the Joint Pensions Committee
In office
March 8, 2018 – January 3, 2019
DeputySherrod Brown
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byRon Wyden
Succeeded byChuck Grassley
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Preceded byPatrick Leahy
Succeeded byArlen Specter
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Preceded byPatrick Leahy
Succeeded byPatrick Leahy
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byJoe Biden
Succeeded byPatrick Leahy
Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Preceded byHarrison A. Williams
Succeeded byTed Kennedy
Personal details
Orrin Grant Hatch

(1934-03-22) March 22, 1934 (age 87)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Elaine Hansen
(m. 1957)
EducationBrigham Young University (BA)
University of Pittsburgh (JD)
AwardsPresidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).svg Presidential Medal of Freedom (2018)
Canterbury Medal (2020)

Orrin Grant Hatch (born March 22, 1934) is an American attorney, retired politician, and composer who served as a United States Senator from Utah for 42 years (1977–2019). He is the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history and the longest-serving U.S. Senator from Utah.

Hatch chaired the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions from 1981 to 1987. He also served as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 2001 and 2003 to 2005. On January 3, 2015, after the 114th United States Congress was sworn in, Hatch became President pro tempore of the Senate. He served as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 2015 to 2019. Hatch led the efforts to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He retired in January 2019 and was succeeded by the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

Early life and education[edit]

Orrin Grant Hatch was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1] He is the son of Jesse Hatch (1904–1992), a metal lather,[2] and his wife Helen Frances Hatch (née Kamm; 1906–1995). Hatch had eight brothers and sisters, two of whom did not survive infancy.[3] Hatch was profoundly affected by the loss of his older brother Jesse, a U.S. Army Air Forces nose turret gunner with the 725th Bombardment Squadron who was killed on February 7, 1945, when the B-24 he was aboard was shot down over Austria.[2][4][5][6]

Hatch, who grew up in poverty,[7] was the first in his family to attend college; he attended Brigham Young University and received a B.A. degree in history in 1959. He also fought 11 bouts as an amateur boxer.[2] In 1962, Hatch received a J.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.[2] Hatch has stated that during law school, he and his young family resided in a refurbished chicken coop behind his parents' house.[7][8] Hatch worked as an attorney in Pittsburgh and moved to Utah in 1969, where he continued to practice law.[9]


In 1976, in his first run for public office, Hatch was elected to the United States Senate, defeating Democrat Frank Moss, a three-term incumbent.[10] Hatch criticized Moss's 18-year tenure in the Senate, saying, "What do you call a Senator who's served in office for 18 years? You call him home."[11] Hatch ran on the promise of term limits[12] and argued that many Senators, including Moss, had lost touch with their constituents.[13]

In 1982, Hatch won re-election, defeating Mayor of Salt Lake City Ted Wilson by 17 points.[14] He defeated Brian Moss (Frank Moss' son) by 35 points in 1988[15] and was re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012.[10]

Orrin Hatch presidential campaign logo

In 2000, Hatch sought the Republican presidential nomination. After finishing last in the Iowa caucuses, Hatch withdrew his candidacy on January 27, 2000, and endorsed eventual winner George W. Bush.[16]

2012 Senate election[edit]

After the defeat of Utah's Senator Bob Bennett in 2010, conjecture began as to whether six-term Senator Hatch would retire in 2012. It was also speculated that Congressman Jason Chaffetz would run against Hatch, though Chaffetz would later decline. In January 2011, Hatch announced his campaign for re-election.[17] Later, nine other Republicans, including former State Senator Dan Liljenquist and then-State Legislator Chris Herrod, declared campaigns for U.S. Senator.[18][19]

Having elected state delegates in mid-March, both the Democratic and Republican parties held conventions on April 21, with the possibilities to determine their nominees for the November general election. At the Republican convention, Hatch failed to get the 60% vote needed to clinch the Republican nomination, so he faced Liljenquist (the second-place winner) in the primary June 26.[20] Hatch won the primary easily.[21] It was Hatch's first primary competition since his election in 1976. The Democratic convention chose former state Senator and IBM executive Scott Howell as the Democratic Party candidate. Hatch defeated Howell, receiving 65.2% of the vote to Howell's 30.2%.[20]

2016 presidential endorsements[edit]

In the 2016 presidential election, Hatch originally supported former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and later endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio once Bush ended his campaign. On May 12, 2016, after Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Hatch endorsed him.[22] On May 27, 2016, after Trump suggested that a federal judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was biased against Trump because of his Mexican heritage, Hatch said: "From what I know about Trump, he's not a racist but he does make a lot of outrageous statements...I think you can criticize a judge but it ought to be done in a formal way" and said that Trump's statements were not so inappropriate that he would rescind his support.[23][better source needed] On October 7, 2016, following the Donald Trump Access Hollywood controversy, Hatch described Trump's comments as "offensive and disgusting" and said that "[there] is no excuse for such degrading behavior. All women deserve to be treated with respect."[24] Hatch maintained his endorsement of Trump's candidacy.[25]

U.S. Senate tenure[edit]

Hatch with President Donald Trump and Senator Mike Lee in 2017

Hatch took office as a U.S. senator on January 3, 1977.[26] He chaired the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions from 1981 to 1987.[27] He also served as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee[28] and the Senate Finance Committee.[29]

In September 1989, Hatch was one of nine Republican senators appointed by Senate Republican Leader Robert Dole to negotiate a dispute with Democrats over the financing of President Bush's anti-drug plan that called for spending $7.8 billion by the following year as part of the president's efforts to address narcotics nationwide and abroad.[30]

Hatch expressed interest in serving on the United States Supreme Court.[31] It was reported that he was on Ronald Reagan's short list of candidates to succeed Lewis F. Powell Jr. on the Supreme Court, but was passed over at least in part because of the Ineligibility Clause.[32] Despite that, he vocally supported Robert Bork, who was chosen instead.[33]

Orrin Hatch meeting Queen Elizabeth II in 1991

Hatch "worked across the aisle to pass landmark legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children's Health Insurance Program".[34] During the 1991 confirmation hearings regarding the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas, Hatch "famously defended Thomas...by reading aloud from 'The Exorcist' to suggest Anita Hill lifted details of her sexual harassment allegations from the horror book".[35]

On January 3, 2015, after the 114th United States Congress was sworn in, Hatch became President pro tempore of the Senate.[36]

Hatch was absent from the 2017 Inauguration Day festivities. At the request of President-elect Donald Trump, he agreed to serve as designated survivor during the inauguration and was kept at a secure, undisclosed location.[37]

On December 25, 2017, the Salt Lake Tribune published an editorial entitled "Why Orrin Hatch is Utahn of the Year." The newspaper described its criteria for the designation as "Utahn of the Year" as "the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill."[38] The editorial criticized Hatch for his role in the size reduction of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and accused him of lacking integrity.[39]

Hatch announced on January 2, 2018, that he would retire from the Senate instead of seeking re-election that November.[40] Hatch retired from the Senate on January 3, 2019,[35] having served there for 42 years.[41] At the time of his retirement announcement, he was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Utah history (having eclipsed previous record-holder Reed Smoot in 2007),[42] the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in the history of Congress,[26] and also one of the longest-serving Republican members of Congress in the history of the United States. Hatch surpassed fellow senators Ted Stevens and Strom Thurmond, who joined the Republican Party in 1964, and was later surpassed by Chuck Grassley and Don Young.

Political positions and votes[edit]


Hatch was strongly opposed to abortion and was the author of the Hatch Amendment to the Constitution, which stated that there is no constitutional right to abortion and empowered the states to restrict abortion as they saw fit.


Sen. Hatch visits at the White House with Pres. Bush following the September 11 attacks.

In 1995, Hatch was the leading figure behind the senate's anti-terrorism bill, to a large extent a response to the Oklahoma City Bombing. Elements of the bill were criticised by the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee on civil liberties grounds, especially the new limits imposed on habeas corpus in capital cases.[43]

As a senior member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Hatch was also instrumental in the 2008 extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said, "This bipartisan bill will help defeat terrorism and keep America safe. No, the legislation is not perfect, but it ensures that the increased expansion of the judiciary into foreign intelligence gathering doesn't unnecessarily hamper our intelligence community."[44]


Hatch voted in favor of the 2008 legislation that established the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).[45] In 2011, Hatch said that he "probably made a mistake voting for it", and also claimed "at the time, we were in real trouble and it looked like we were ready for a depression. I believe we would have gone into a depression."[46] He voted against the renewal of TARP in 2009, and the renewal was voted down by 10 votes in the Senate.

Hatch voted in favor of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.[47] The bill authorized $300 billion to guarantee mortgages and restore confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.[48]

Balanced budget amendment[edit]

Hatch has been a longtime advocate of amending the United States Constitution to require that total spending of the federal government for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts.[49][50]

During his time in the Senate, Hatch has sponsored a balanced budget amendment 17 times—4 times as lead sponsor and 13 times as a co-sponsor.[49] He also voted in favor of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment on at least 9 occasions.[51][52] Hatch's proposed amendment passed the House of Representatives in 1997, but failed to pass the Senate by the required two-thirds majority by one vote to move on the states for ratification.[49][53]

Bank of Credit and Commerce International[edit]

In January 1990, the federal judge in a case against the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) accepted a 1989 plea bargain offered to the bank by the U.S. Department of Justice. The bank was to pay $15 million in fines and only admit that it had laundered drug money. Afterward, Hatch presented an impassioned defense of the bank in a speech on the Senate floor. It had been largely written for him by the bank's attorney Robert Altman. Hatch said, "The case arose from the conduct of a small number of B.C.C.I.'s more than 14,000 employees." Since 1989, Hatch and his aide, Michael Pillsbury, had been involved in efforts to counter the negative publicity that surrounded the bank. Hatch had also solicited the bank to approve a $10 million loan to a close friend, Monzer Hourani. In 1991, B.C.C.I. was shut down after regulators accused it of one of the biggest international financial frauds in history. Law enforcement officials accused the bank of making bribes throughout the third world to arrange government deposits. Clark Clifford, a former presidential advisor and Defense Secretary, and Altman, his law partner, were charged with taking bribes from B.C.C.I., in exchange for concealing its illegal ownership of First American Bankshares, a Washington holding company which Clifford chaired. Both had denied the charges, which were filed in New York State and Federal courts.[54] In 1992, in a "Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate," prepared by committee members, U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Hank Brown (R-CO), noted that a key strategy of "BCCI's successful secret acquisitions of U.S. banks in the face of regulatory suspicion was its aggressive use of a series of prominent Americans," Clifford amongst them.[55] The relationship with Hourani included the receipt of campaign contributions laundered through his employees, for which Hourani was fined $10,000, as well as his purchase of 1,200 CDs of Hatch's songs, for which Hatch received $3 to $7 each, and the management of a blind trust for Hatch. These led to a Senate Ethics Committee investigation, by which Hatch was eventually cleared.[56]


As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch has investigated the use of what are known as Section 1603 grants and tax credits. The Section 1603 program was created in President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package with the intention of subsidizing green energy production. Since 2009, the federal government has given out $25 billion in cash grants on behalf of the program. Hatch has investigated the program on several occasions. On June 9, 2016, his office requested from Department of Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) details about how companies use the program. In March 2016, Hatch asked the IRS and Treasury Department to demonstrate that the agencies use safeguards and coordinate with each other when reviewing applications for Section 1603 grants. Per his June letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the agencies have cooperated with Hatch's investigation.[57]

Health care reform[edit]

Hatch opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[58] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[59] Hatch has argued that the insurance mandate found in the legislation is not in the category that can be covered by the interstate commerce clause since it regulates the decision to engage in commercial activity rather than regulating the activity itself. He therefore regards the Act as unconstitutional.[60] NPR called Hatch a "flip-flopper" on this issue since in 1993 Hatch co-sponsored a bill along with 19 other Senate Republicans that included an individual insurance mandate as a means to combat healthcare legislation proposed by Hillary Clinton.[61][62] In 2018, Hatch said that Obamacare supporters were "the stupidest, dumbass people I've ever met".[63]

Hatch was one of the first Senators to suggest that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and promised to work on dismantling it when he becomes the Finance Committee Chairman.[64] Hatch was part of the group of 13 Senators drafting the Senate version of the AHCA behind closed doors.[65][66][67][68]

Hatch with Surgeon General of the United States Dr. C. Everett Koop (far right), Elizabeth Koop (left), and HHS Secretary Richard Schweiker (right), (November 16, 1981).

In 2003, Hatch supported the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan known as Medicare Part D.[69][70] Responding to criticism of the legislation during the 2009 debate on health care reform, Hatch said that in 2003 "it was standard practice not to pay for things" and that although there was concern at the time about increasing the deficit, supporting the bill was justified because it "has done a lot of good".[71]

On March 25, 2014, Hatch cosponsored the Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2014 in the Senate. The bill that would amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program through FY2019.[72] The bill would authorize appropriations of about $20 million in 2015 and $101 million over the 2015–2019 period.[73] Hatch argued that "children require specialized medical care, and that specialized care comes with unique challenges. The EMSC program helps ensure that some of our country's most vulnerable have access to the care they need, and I've been proud to support it all these years."[74]


Hatch was one of the architects and advocates of the expansion of H-1B visas and has generally been an advocate of tougher enforcement immigration policy including voting for 1,500 new law enforcement agents to patrol the border. His 2010 Immigration Bill titled Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America's Security Act has received the support of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).[75] He also proposed the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants, who were children when their parents came to the United States.[76]

Hatch critiqued President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from seven Muslim countries until better screening methods are devised. He reflected on his own family's immigration history and described the order as placing "unnecessary burdens" on families.[77]

Judicial nominations[edit]

Hatch with Neil Gorsuch in 2017
Hatch with Brett Kavanaugh in 2018
Hatch with John Roberts in 2005
Hatch with Samuel Alito in 2005

As ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch fought hard to get conservative judges nominated to the Supreme Court. He took a leading role in the Senate confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas in October 1991. He was also a strong supporter of Jay Bybee during Bybee's confirmation hearings for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, stating "I've seen a lot of people around and a lot of judges and I don't know of anybody who has any greater qualifications or any greater ability in the law than you have."[78][79]

Nevertheless, in 1993, Hatch recommended Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom he knew personally, to President Bill Clinton to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, even as he knew she was a political liberal. Clinton had not previously considered Ginsburg, and Hatch, as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, assured him that a Ginsburg confirmation would go smoothly.[80]

With regards to the Senate filibuster being used to stall President Barack Obama's judicial appointments, Hatch voted against the November 2013 reforms, which eliminated the use of the filibuster on executive branch nominees and judicial nominees other than to the Supreme Court.[81] In September 2014, Hatch argued that the filibuster should be restored, saying: "We should get it back to where it was. You can see the destruction that has happened around here."[82] However, in November 2014, after the Republicans retook control of the Senate following the 2014 elections, Hatch wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "if Republicans re-establish the judicial-nomination filibuster, it would remain in place only until the moment that a new Democratic majority decided that discarding the rule again would be useful" and called for "the next Republican president to counteract President Obama's aggressive efforts to stack the federal courts in favor of his party's ideological agenda" by nominating conservative judges.[83]

As an opponent of the confirmation of Merrick Garland, Hatch submitted to the Deseret News an opinion piece stating that, after meeting with Garland, his opinion on blocking Garland had not changed; the piece was published prior to Hatch's meeting with Garland.[84] On March 13, 2016, regarding the nomination of Supreme court candidates by Obama, Hatch stated "a number of factors have led me to conclude that under current circumstances the Senate should defer the confirmation process until the next president is sworn in".[85]

Intellectual property[edit]

Hatch has long been a proponent of expanding intellectual property rights, and introduced the Senate version of the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1997.[86] Hatch believes intellectual property laws should, in general, more closely mirror real property laws, and offer greater protections to authors and creators.[86]

Hatch caused an overnight controversy on June 17, 2003, by proposing that copyright owners should be able to destroy the computer equipment and information of those suspected of copyright infringement, including file sharing, he stated that "This may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."[87] In the face of criticism, especially from technology and privacy advocates, Hatch withdrew his suggestion days later, after it was discovered that Sen. Hatch's official website was using an unlicensed JavaScript menu from United Kingdom-based software developer Milonic Solutions. Milonic founder Andy Woolley stated that "We've had no contact with them. They are in breach of our licensing terms." Shortly after the publication of that story in Wired magazine, the company that runs Hatch's website contacted Milonic to start registration.[88][89]

On September 20, 2010, Hatch once again attempted to outlaw websites which could be used for trademark and copyright infringement through the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). This bill would authorize the United States Department of Justice to blacklist and censor all websites that the department deemed to be dedicated to "infringing activities".[90]

LGBT rights[edit]

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that in 1977, Hatch told students from the University of Utah, "I wouldn't want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I'd want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school."[91] Hatch supported the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.[92]

In 2012, Hatch recommended and supported District Court Judge Robert Shelby, a Barack Obama appointee, though Utah Senator Mike Lee, voted against him in the Judiciary Committee. In 2013 Shelby overturned Utah's ballot Amendment 3, which constitutionally defined marriage as between a man and a woman.[93][94][95]

In April 2013, Hatch stated that he viewed same-sex marriage as "undermining the very basis of marital law", but declined to support a Federal Marriage Amendment and endorsed same-sex couples' right to form a civil union, stating that the law should "give gay people the same rights as married people".[96] Later that same year, Hatch voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation creating protected classes for those identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.[97][98] In 2018, Hatch "honored Pride" by giving a speech in support of programs to help and serve LGBT youth.[99]

Nuclear testing[edit]

Senator Orrin Hatch holds a press conference with Representative Wayne Owens in March 1989 as part of their successful charge to win passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
Hatch 110th Congress

During Hatch's first year in the Senate in 1977, reporter Gordon Eliot White of the Deseret News published the first of what would be a lengthy series of articles detailing government malfeasance in atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs at the Nevada Test Site. Over the next 13 years White's articles detailed how the government determined to proceed with the tests, and with mining and refining, without adequate safeguards for innocent citizens whose health would be damaged. Though Hatch feared an investigation would endanger the nation's nuclear deterrence versus the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, by 1979 he was pushing for hearings on the issue before the Senate Labor Committee. Hatch prevailed on Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy to hold field hearings in Utah in 1980. At the end of 1980, Hatch was positioned to chair the committee himself.

By 1984, Hatch had held a dozen hearings, passed legislation requiring scientific investigation of the injuries and had enlisted the aid of the National Science Foundation and National Cancer Institute, but still could not muster the votes to get a bill. When a vote was obtained in the Senate in 1985 (as an amendment to a bill to compensate Pacific Islanders for nuclear tests in the 1950s), it failed by a handful of votes.[100] Hatch discovered a clause in the proposed Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Kiribati and Tuvalu to pay at least $100 million to residents of the Marshall Islands for injuries similar to those of Utahns, and Hatch took the treaty hostage. His hold on consideration of the treaty eventually got agreement from the Reagan administration to agree not to oppose radiation compensation for Utah citizens, but it still took another five years to get the bill through. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 provided compensation for citizens injured by radioactive fallout from the tests.[100]

In December 2010, Hatch was one of twenty-six senators who voted against the ratification of New Start,[101] a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads as well as 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years along with providing a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.[102]

Opioid crisis[edit]

Hatch introduced the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, narrowing the broad authority of the DEA to suspend drug "manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers".[103] Hatch stated the bill was also written to protect patients from disruptions in the production and delivery of their prescription drugs: "The fact that prescription drugs can be abused should not prevent patients from receiving the medications they need. This bill takes a balanced approach to the problem of prescription drug abuse by clarifying penalties for manufacturing or dispensing outside approved procedures while helping to ensure that supply chains to legitimate users remain intact".[104] The bill passed the Senate unanimously[105] and Tom Marino passed a version of the bill in the House[106] and was signed by President Barack Obama.[107]

Critics of the bill claim the new law fuels the opioid crisis by limiting the DEA's ability to halt production and distribution by predatory drug companies.[108][109] DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge John J. Mulrooney II wrote in the Marquette Law Review: "At a time when, by all accounts, opioid abuse, addiction and deaths were increasing markedly, this new law imposed a dramatic diminution of the agency's authority. It is now all but logically impossible for the DEA to suspend a drug company's operations for failing to comply with federal law."[110] Donald Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was "dubious" about the law when it passed and joined 44 state attorneys general calling for "repeal or amendment of the law to restore some of the DEA's authority."[111][112] Jim Geldhof, a former DEA program manager whom spent 43 years with the DEA called the bill "outrageous. It basically takes any kind of action DEA was going to do with a distributor or manufacturer as far as an immediate suspension off the table. And then the other part of that really infuriates me is that corrective action plan."[113] Mulrooney compared the corrective action plan to one that would "allow bank robbers to round up and return inkstained money and agree not to rob any more banks — all before any of those wrongdoers actually admit fault and without any consequence that might deter such behavior in the future."[114]

Hatch responded to a Washington Post and 60 Minutes investigation into the bill by writing a Washington Post opinion article calling the investigation "misleading" and asking to "leave conspiracy theories to Netflix".[115] Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a co-sponsor of the senate bill, also defended the bill: "This bill was drafted in consultation with the DEA to offer better guidance for companies working to safely and responsibly supply prescription drugs to pharmacies, and to promote better communication and certainty between companies and regulators."[116] Republican Pat Toomey expressed doubts that a conspiracy existed, but still suggested amending the bill: "I'm a little surprised that it passed unanimously in both houses, was signed by President Obama and got no opposition from the DEA at the time. That's not the way controversial legislation usually ends up, but hey, if there's problems, then we ought to revisit them."[117]

Hatch received $177,000 in donations from the drug industry while pushing the bill through[118] and has received $2,178,863 from the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry from 1989 to 2014 according to required filings by the Federal Election Commission.[119]


In 2017, Hatch voted to prevent online and telecommunication privacy protections from taking effect.[120]

Religious freedom[edit]

Hatch was the main author of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which protected all religions' right to build church facilities on private property.[121] In 2010, Hatch defended the right of a private organization to build a mosque on private property in downtown Manhattan, citing this law and defense of the freedom of religion.[122]

Presidential Medal of Freedom[edit]

On November 16, 2018, President Donald Trump awarded Hatch with the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

President Donald J. Trump Presents Medal of Freedom to Orrin Hatch

Other issues[edit]

In 1980, Hatch spoke in favor of rolling back provisions of the Fair Housing Act enforced by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Acting on his motion in 1988, Congress eventually voted to weaken the ability of plaintiffs to prosecute cases of discriminatory treatment in housing. At the time the 1988 Fair Housing Amendments were being debated, he introduced a bill endorsed by the National Association of Realtors to severely limit who can file anti-discrimination suits and to make the proceedings a private affair.

In 1999, Hatch called for a federal probe into manufacturers of violent video games, and proposed making the existing voluntary rating system for video games (ESRB) mandatory by federal law.[123]

Hatch pushed legislation for the Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment, which would amend Article 2, Section I, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution. This amendment would allow anyone who has been a U.S. citizen for twenty years to seek the presidency or vice-presidency.

A vocal supporter of stem cell research, Hatch was one of 58 senators who signed a letter directed to President George W. Bush, requesting the relaxing of federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. In 2010, Hatch's bill was reauthorized which allowed stem cells from umbilical cords to be used to find treatment options.[124]

In 2011, Hatch was criticized for comments he made suggesting that the rich have an unfair financial burden in the current tax system.[125]

In June 2013, Hatch commented on a G8 proposal that tax authorities in the world's largest economies openly share information among themselves in order to fight tax evasion. The proposal has strong suggestions about ways to make companies more transparent and governments more accountable for their tax policies. Hatch stated that transparency is always a good thing, but he would like to see a bill before giving any support.[126]

In 2017, Hatch was one of 22 senators to sign a letter[127] to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Hatch has received over $470,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.[128]

In 2018, over the Judge Kavanaugh Supreme Court controversy, Hatch said that it did not matter even if Kavanaugh did what his accusers alleged was true. Hatch said, "If that was true, I think it would be hard for senators to not consider who the judge is today. That's the issue. Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is.”[129]

Hatch voted for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999, saying "committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office... This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes. But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up. Any other citizen would be prosecuted for these crimes."[130] In 2018, in the wake of court filings that implicated President Trump in campaign finance violations and in attempting to buy the silence of women who alleged affairs with Trump, Hatch said, "I don't care, all I can say is he's doing a good job as president."[131][132][130]

In April 2018, Hatch was one of eight Republican senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and acting Secretary of State John Sullivan expressing "deep concern" over a report by the United Nations exposing "North Korean sanctions evasion involving Russia and China" and asserting that the findings "demonstrate an elaborate and alarming military-venture between rogue, tyrannical states to avoid United States and international sanctions and inflict terror and death upon thousands of innocent people" while calling it "imperative that the United States provides a swift and appropriate response to the continued use of chemical weapons used by President Assad and his forces, and works to address the shortcomings in sanctions enforcement."[133]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Judd Gregg's 2011 retirement created a domino effect among high-profile Senate Republicans: Jeff Sessions took his spot as Ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee; Chuck Grassley in turn took his spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Hatch took the top Republican spot on the Senate Finance Committee.

Lobbying ties[edit]

Hatch's son Scott Hatch was formerly a partner and registered lobbyist at Walker, Martin & Hatch LLC, a Washington lobbying firm. The firm was formed in 2001 with Jack Martin, a staff aide to Hatch for six years, and H. Laird Walker, described as a close associate of the senator.[136] In March 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported that the firm was formed with Hatch's personal encouragement and that he saw no conflict of interest in working on issues that involved his son's clients.[137] In 2009, the Washington Times reported that Hatch said "My son, Scott, does not lobby me or anyone in my office".[136]

In March 2009, the Washington Times reported that the pharmaceutical industry, which has benefited from Hatch's legislative efforts, had previously unreported connections to Hatch. In 2007, five pharmaceutical companies and the industry's main trade association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), donated $172,500 to the Utah Families Foundation—a charitable foundation which Hatch helped start in the 1990s and has continued to support since. Walker, Martin & Hatch LLC was paid $120,000 by PhRMA in 2007 to lobby Congress on pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration legislation.[136]

Electoral history[edit]

Year Candidate Percent Candidate Percent Candidate Percent Candidate Percent Candidate Percent Candidate Percent
1976 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) 54% Frank Moss (D) (inc.) 45% George Merl Batchelor (A) 1% Steve Trotter (L) <1%
1982 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) (inc.) 58% Ted Wilson (D) 41% George Mercier (L) <1% Lawrence Kauffman (A) <1%
1988 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) (inc.) 67% Brian Moss (D) 32% Robert Smith (A) 1% William Arth (SW) <1%
1994 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) (inc.) 69% Pat A.Shea (D) 28% Craig Oliver (I) 2% Gary Van Horn (A) <1% Nelson Gonzalez (SW) <1% Lawrence Topham (IA) <1%
2000 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) (inc.) 66% Scott Howell (D) 31% Carlton Edward Bowen (IA) 2% Jim Dexter (L) 1%
2006 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) (inc.) 62% Pete Ashdown (D) 31% Scott Bradley (C) 4% Roger Price (PC) 2% Dave Seely (L) 1% Julian Hatch (DG) <1%
2012 ✓ Orrin Hatch (R) (inc.) 65% Scott Howell (D) 30% Shaun Lynn McCausland (C) 3% Daniel Greery (J) 1% Bill Barron (I) 1%
U.S. Senate Republican Primary election in Utah, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Orrin Hatch (inc.) 160,359 66%
Republican Dan Liljenquist 80,915 34%

Personal life[edit]

Hatch married Elaine Hansen on August 28, 1957. They have six children.

Hatch is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Although he was born in Pennsylvania, his parents had been raised in Utah and he had ancestors who were members of the LDS Church in Nauvoo, Illinois. Hatch served as an LDS missionary in what was called the "Great Lakes States Mission" essentially covering large parts of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Hatch has since served in various positions in the LDS Church, including as a bishop.[138][139]

Hatch is a founder and co-chair of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers.[140]

Hatch serves as a member of the board of directors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.[141][better source needed] In a 1996 interview on 60 Minutes, Hatch claimed to wear a mezuzah necklace in order to remind himself that another holocaust should never be allowed to occur.[142]

Despite their political differences, Hatch was a longtime friend of fellow senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at his memorial service and publicly suggesting Kennedy's widow as a replacement for Kennedy in the Senate.[citation needed]

Musical career and film appearances[edit]

Hatch plays the piano, violin and organ. Fueled by his interest in poetry, Hatch has written songs for many. He co-authored "Everything And More," sung by Billy Gilman. In addition to his job as a United States Senator, Hatch has earned over $10,000 as an LDS music recording artist.[143] Hatch wrote the lyrics for and participated in the recording of "Eight Days of Hanukkah" in 2009. The song's music was composed by Madeline Stone.[144]

Hatch also has a history in arts management. In the early 1970s he was the band manager for a Mormon-themed folk group called the Free Agency. The Free Agency was made up of members of an earlier Mormon group called the Sons of Mosiah, that was formed when guitarist David Zandonatti and vocalist Ron McNeeley relocated to Utah after their San Francisco based psychedelic group Tripsichord Music Box disbanded in 1971. The group also included Lynn Bryson and Alan Cherry.[citation needed]

Rock musician Frank Zappa composed a guitar instrumental entitled "Orrin Hatch On Skis," which appears on his 1988 album, Guitar.[145]

In March 1997, Orrin Hatch and Janice Kapp Perry jointly recorded an album of music with Tree Music entitled "My God Is Love".[146] Later albums with Perry included "Come to the Manger".

Hatch and Janice Kapp Perry co-wrote the song "Heal Our Land", which was performed at George W. Bush's January 2005 inauguration.[147][148]

Hatch appeared as himself, alongside Chuck Grassley, in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning drama Traffic, in a brief cameo in a scene set during a Washington D.C. cocktail party.[149] Soderbergh later featured one of Hatch's songs, Souls Along The Way, in his film Ocean's 12 as background music for a scene in Hatch's home state Utah.

Hatch's likeness was featured in the 30 Rock episode "Jack Gets in the Game" as one of Dr. Leo Spaceman's famous clients.[150]

In 2009, at the request of The Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, Hatch authored the lyrics to "Eight Days of Hanukkah",[148] described by Goldberg as "a hip hop Hannukah song written by the senior senator from Utah."[151]

Hatch appeared in a scene in the Parks and Recreation episode "Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington" alongside Cory Booker.

Hatch along with Lowell Alexander and Phil Naish composed the song, "Blades Of Grass And Pure White Stones".[152][153]


  • Orrin Hatch, The Equal Rights Amendment: Myths and Realities, Savant Press (1983)
  • Orrin Hatch, Higher Laws: Understanding the Doctrines of Christ , Shadow Mountain (June 1995) ISBN 978-0-87579-896-7
  • Orrin Hatch, Square Peg: Confessions of a Citizen Senator, Basic Books (October 15, 2002) ISBN 978-0-465-02867-2

Hatch's autobiography describes the challenges of balancing home and professional life as a Senator, and recounts anecdotes from his campaign experience and some of his higher-profile assignments in the Senate, such as the Confirmation Hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

  • Orrin Hatch, Orrin Hatch, the L.D.S. Mormon Politician as Songwriter, text of an interview of Orrin Hatch by Phillip K. Bimstein, in Washington, D.C., August 14, 2003, transcribed by Jonathan Murphy, New York City, American Music Center, 2003, without ISBN.

Hatch also is the author of several law review articles.


Hatch has been awarded the following:

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Utah
(Class 1)

1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006, 2012
Succeeded by
Mitt Romney
U.S. Senate
Preceded by United States Senator (Class 1) from Utah
Served alongside: Jake Garn, Bob Bennett, Mike Lee
Succeeded by
Mitt Romney
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Health Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joe Biden
Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Patrick Leahy
Preceded by Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ron Wyden
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
Succeeded by
Chuck Grassley
Preceded by Chair of the Joint Taxation Committee
Succeeded by
Kevin Brady
Chair of the Joint Taxation Committee
Succeeded by
New office Chair of the Joint Pensions Committee
Position abolished
Honorary titles
Preceded by Most Senior Republican in the United States Senate
Succeeded by
Chuck Grassley
Political offices
Preceded by
Patrick Leahy
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
Succeeded by
Chuck Grassley