Today, President Trump gave Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor. Senator Hatch was given the award along with six others, including the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Senator Hatch, who is retiring, is currently the longest-serving senator and Senate President pro tempore, and voted on the confirmation of every current Supreme Court justice.
RNLA Executive Director Michael Thielen said: "Senator Hatch has been a great supporter of the RNLA and the entire Republican and conservative legal movement, from his work in the Senate and his leadership as Senate Judiciary Chairman to his willingness to assist and speak to the RNLA. We are grateful for his years of service and it is very fitting that President Trump gave him the Medal of Freedom today."
Senator Hatch spoke at the RNLA's National Policy Conference in 2011, giving insight into the current battles over judicial confirmations:
The fight over judicial appointments has always been, and remains today, a fight over judicial power. America’s founders believed that liberty requires limits on government and, as the Supreme Court said in Marbury v. Madison, gave us a written Constitution so that those limits would not be mistaken or forgotten. To America’s founders, the Constitution is the ultimate expression of the will of the American people. As President George Washington put it in his farewell address, the very basis of our system of government is that the people retain authority over the Constitution.
Authority over the Constitution must include not only authority to determine what the Constitution says, but authority to determine what the Constitution means. The Constitution, after all, is really the meaning of its words. The only legitimate approach to interpreting the Constitution is to determine the meaning that its words already have, the meaning given to the words by the people to whom the Constitution belongs.
Since the 1930s, however, judges have increasingly claimed the power to control the Constitution by controlling and changing its meaning. Whether it is finding unwritten rights in our written Constitution, or fundamentally changing the meaning of what is actually written there, judges have taken control of the Constitution that is supposed to control them. This is the heart of judicial activism. It does not take a legal education to understand that the Constitution cannot control judges if judges control the Constitution, or that our liberty is lost if the Constitution no longer limits government.
President Reagan sought to reassert that the Constitution embodies inescapable and enduring mandates established by the people, and to appoint judges who believed the same. His predecessor, Jimmy Carter, is the only full-term President in American history not to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, which perhaps is proof that there is indeed a God who is looking out for us after all. After spending four years on the Judiciary Committee examining President Carter’s lower court nominees, I spoke loudly in the 1980 campaign against what I called avant garde liberal activists who will legislate from the bench. President Reagan was elected promising to appoint a very different kind of judge.
Thank you, Senator Hatch, for your faithful service to the American people, and congratulations on today's well-deserved award.