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Sen. Hatch's article on voting 'present' is disingenuous

Sen. Orrin Hatch
Sen. Orrin Hatch
Cliff Owen, Associated Press

Sen. Orrin Hatch's "My View" is disingenuous ("Why I voted 'present' instead of 'no,' " March 26). He repeatedly insisted that President George W. Bush's judicial nominees receive "up-or-down vote[s], as the Constitution requires." His claim of consistency is belied by actions to deny President Barack Obama's judicial nominees such a vote. Sen. Hatch admits that because cloture to end a filibuster "requires a super majority of 60 …, 'present' and 'no' have the same procedural effect," but failing to vote also has the same effect.

In 2012, his failure to vote was almost decisive, when a judge supported by Arizona Republican senators received the minimum 60 votes to end a filibuster. In 2011, his "present" supported an unprecedented attempt to filibuster a trial judge, while 11 principled Republicans voted for cloture and "no" on the merits. Sen. Hatch writes: "Three times, I have voted 'present' on a motion to end debate on a particularly controversial nominee. … I have not cast such a vote on a failed judicial nominee in more than a year." But his March 2013 "not voting" helped deny Caitlin Halligan an up-or-down vote, and his July 2012, "present" supported an unprecedented filibuster of a consensus judge who was confirmed unanimously in February 2013.

Glenn Sugameli

Washington, D.C.