Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, vowed a contentious fight Thursday against a judicial nominee he says is soft on crime and legislates from the bench.

Regardless, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-5 to endorse elevating New Jersey federal Judge H. Lee Sarokin to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. It now goes to the Senate floor, where Hatch said a fight looms."Judge Sarokin has earned a reputation as a stridently liberal judicial activist who pursues his own ideological agenda in lieu of applying the law," said Hatch, the ranking Republican on the committee.

He added that on issues such as crime, quotas, reverse discrimination and pornography, "Judge Sarokin has sought to impose his own moral vision."

Hatch said, "He has ignored, defied and even stampeded binding precedent and higher authority and has flaunted his own biases and sentiments on the sleeve of his judicial robe."

Hatch also said Sarokin may be the most-often reversed judge in his district. And the appeals court - where he would serve - removed him from the case of a woman who blamed the tobacco industry for her father's death. Sarokin had called the industry "the king of concealment and disinformation."

Hatch said the nomination also shows "that all of the tough-on-crime rhetoric the president serves up means less than his actions, including the selection of judges."

However, Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., a friend of Sarokin, said he is still confident Sarokin will be confirmed despite opposition by Hatch and other Republicans.