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Sen. Orrin Hatch says Roe v. Wade 'settled opinion,' doesn't see it being overturned

SALT LAKE CITY — Fears that Brett Kavanaugh would overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court aren't valid, Sen. Orrin Hatch said.

"I don't think anyone is going to overturn Roe versus Wade. It's a settled opinion," the Utah Republican said when asked on “PBS NewsHour” if he could guarantee Democrats that that won't happen.

"A lot of conservatives would like to see it overturned, but actually he's got bigger fish to fry," Hatch said. "He's going to have all he can handle to handle current cases that come before the court, so I doubt seriously that that's really a legitimate concern."

Democrats intend to press the issue at Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings to persuade their colleagues to vote against him.

Kavanaugh, a federal appellate court judge in Washington, D.C., dissented in a recent ruling that allowed a 17-year-old detainee in an immigration facility to obtain an abortion. He argued that “the Supreme Court has repeatedly said that the government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of the minor, and not facilitating abortion, so long as the government does not impose an undue burden on the abortion decision."

Hatch said it would be "pathetic" for one issue to cause an "otherwise a really outstanding person" to have Democrats go against him.

The seven-term senator met with Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

"He's already on the second greatest court in the union and he has handled himself very, very well," Hatch said before the meeting, adding he expects Kavanaugh's confirmation to go well.

Hatch said on PBS that Kavanaugh should have an easier time than Justice Neil Gorsuch had last year, "but I don't know. It's become such a politicized process by the Democrats, I have to say, and even some Republicans that who knows."

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rand Paul of Kentucky could potentially have some problems with Kavanaugh.

"Well, that's par for the course," Hatch said. "You're always going to have some Republicans and some Democrats who wish that the judge would meet every standard that they set, but that's not realistic."

A lot of "phony" issues come around Supreme Court nominations, said Hatch, who along with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is a member Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducts the confirmation hearing.

"I think you’re going to find that not only is this a fine, great man, and a good family man and a very intelligent judge, but he can do a very good job on the court, and that’s all we can ask for," Hatch said.