LOCAL NEWS

Orrin Hatch lived a fascinating life in Utah and the Senate

Apr 24, 2022, 10:40 AM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Orrin Hatch was known as a titan of the Senate but his life was much fuller than his public service.

Reaction poured in Saturday after the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation announced he died at the age of 88.

On November 16th, 2018, President Donald Trump honored retiring US Senator Orrin Hatch with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his over four decades of public service.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor the nation reserves for a civilian.

Sen. Hatch retired in January of 2019.

“It’s been the privilege of my life to represent this great state for 42 years,” he told KSL.

On January 3, 2015, when Congress was sworn in, Sen. Hatch became President pro tempore, meaning he was third in the line of succession to the presidency.

Every day in his Washington, D.C. Office, he would look at a painting of his grandfather and great-grandfather.

“It reminds me that I have a heritage that’s a pioneer heritage that I can’t let down,” Hatch said. “I’ve got to keep the pioneer work going and I think I have been a pioneer here.”

42 YEARS IN THE SENATE

From the moment he arrived at 7:30 in the morning at the U.S. Capitol each morning, Hatch almost never stopped moving.  When you are third in line for the presidency, many people want your attention.

He said, “It’s an honor for me.  I don’t get caught up in the pomp and circumstance back here.  I came here to represent Utah, represent my family, my Church, my country, and my state.”

First elected in 1977, he became the longest-serving Republican Senator in U.S. History.

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1934, and was the first in his family to attend college.  He Descended from Latter-day Saint pioneers, graduated from BYU in 1959, and received his law degree in 1962 from the University of Pittsburgh.

While a law student, he worked as a janitor.

“In fact, Ted Kennedy, when he found out I once worked as a janitor. He said, ‘Orrin, I think you should have stuck with it.’ And I left. And I won’t tell you what I told him he should have stuck with.”

Despite their differences, Hatch and Kennedy were longtime friends and worked together on legislation.

“I’ve just worked my butt off and the people have been kind enough to keep sending me back.”

He helped pass more than 700 bills, in fact, no member of Congress has seen more sponsored bills become law.  One of the most important to him was early on in his career – labor law reform.

“Nobody else wanted to do it because they all knew we were going to lose and we were going to lose on the 6th historic vote.  It was miraculous how we won.  We had extra help on that.”

During his tenure, he served as Chair of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

In 1995, in response to the Oklahoma City bombing, Senator Hatch led support of the Senate’s anti-terrorism bill.

He opposed President Barack Obama’s health reform legislation, voting against the Affordable Care Act in 2009.

He was one of the architects and advocates of the expansion of H-1B visas and has been an advocate of tougher enforcement of immigration policy.

He worked with Democrats to pass landmark legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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. Hatch famously defended him by reading aloud from ‘The Exorcist’ to suggest Anita Hill lifted details of her sexual harassment allegations from the horror book.

But in 1993, Hatch recommended Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom he knew personally, to President Bill Clinton.

In 1999, he voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, saying “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.”

In 2018, court filings 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.”

Seniority, he believed, was very important.

“Being a committee chairman helps and I’ve been a chairman three different times of three major committees so, it’s helpful, there’s no question about that.”

Washington exudes power but Hatch said he tried to remember what and who was most important to him.

“If you’re really good, you have to acknowledge that you’re good because of others.  You’ve got to acknowledge that you’re good because of a higher power and I want to always be humble enough that I can have that extra help.”

HUSBAND AND FATHER

Orrin Hatch married Elaine Hansen in 1957 and they had six children.

“My dad has a contagious laugh. Like when he laughs, everybody laughs,” one of his three daughters said.

Orrin and Elaine Hatch had 23 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, descendants who are proud of their patriarch.

Orrin Hatch loved music, he played the piano, organ, and violin.  He wrote songs used in everything from presidential inaugurations to films.

Back home in Utah, he loved spending time with his family but, they say, he was always thinking about his constituents.

“I really feel indebted to the people of Utah for sticking with me and for caring for me enough to be their senator.  I don’t want to ever let them down and I won’t.”

Hatch had the ear of presidents and Utah citizens.  But those closest to him said he was a man devoted to his faith, his family, and this nation, advice he gave to graduates when he received BYU Management Society’s Distinguished Utahn Award in 2017.

“Above all, believe in this country. This is the greatest country in the world. No other country comes close. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve me with leaders all over the world. Some countries come close, but there’s no way they’ll ever going to be as good as the United States of America.”

Hatch believed in serving that country all his days.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(UDOT)...
Madison Swenson

Ramp closed in Salt Lake City after semi carrying tar overturns

One person was taken to the hospital Wednesday after a semi-truck hauling tar rolled in Salt Lake City.
10 hours ago
(Chopper 5/KSL TV)...
Logan Stefanich, KSL.com

Nodding to the past, looking to the future. Utah’s Kennecott again mining copper underground

The Kennecott Copper Mine has been a fixture of the Salt Lake Valley for over 100 years and on Tuesday, the mine announced that it will be moving mining operations underground in its next step to extract copper.
10 hours ago
Zachary Crane and Gabriella Arnold, two students who had their tests destroyed....
Debbie Worthen

High school students retake AP tests after school mix up destroyed them

Two dozen Green Canyon High School students in North Logan won’t get credit for AP tests they took last May as the tests were mistakenly destroyed in transit.
1 day ago
Photo illustration (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Your credit card can up your interest rate without telling you

If your credit card company raises your interest rate even just a little bit, it could have a significant impact on how long it takes you to get out of debt. A relatively new law means your credit card company can do just that and they do not even have to give you the heads up.
1 day ago
Police closing the road of Mountain View Corridor and 9000 South after an accident. (UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Three-vehicle crash closes Mountain View Corridor, one passenger ejected

Police closed a portion of Mountain View Corridor after a three-vehicle crash Tuesday night.
1 day ago
Kevin Linford (Facebook)...
Michael Houck & Andrew Adams

Additional charges filed for Utah business owner accused of sexually assaulting two women

The Utah business owner arrested for assaulting two women at a party is facing additional sexual assault charges.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Orrin Hatch lived a fascinating life in Utah and the Senate