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For week ended December 05, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001

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Hatch Stalls Latino BYU Graduate's Ascension to Appellate Bench

Summarized by Eric Bunker

Hatch Stalls Latino BYU Graduate's Ascension to Appellate Bench
Salt Lake Tribune 29Nov99 N2
By John Heilprin: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and presidential candidate, Orrin Hatch, (R-Utah) has stalled for four years the committee recommendation for the appointment of Richard Paez to a federal Judgeship in Los Angles. One the surface that seems unique as the 52-year-old Hispanic American Paez is a native of Utah, an active member of the Church and a graduate of Brigham Young University.

In July of this year, with Sen. Hatch's backing, he gained approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bro. Paez, is a candidate for California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, nominated by President Clinton in January 1996. If appointed, Bro. Paez, would be the first Mexican-American to serve as a federal judge in Los Angeles.

However, Sen. Hatch may not back him in a full Senate vote. Bro. Paez met with the Senator earlier this month for the first time. They had an hour-long meeting at Hatch's Senate office in Washington, D.C. Sen. Hatch says picking the nation's judges is one of the main issues of the 2000 presidential election. He is not taking the appointment of any judge lightly.

The Senate has agreed to vote by March 15 on whether to confirm Paez or not. The holdup has become one of the most visible of fights over the future direction of the federal judiciary, further exposing the ideological clash between so-called constitutional purists and activists. Such hold-ups are a part of the clash and political dickering that goes on, and appointees often become pawns in a larger ideological contest.

In stating his position, Sen. Hatch says, "I'm still undecided on whether or not to support him. . . . He's been a Californian for a long time, but he was born and raised in Utah. I've bent over backwards for Utahns, but still, if he's an activist, he's not going to be on the bench. And there are a lot of Republicans who feel that he's an activist. I'm weighing that and certainly looking into it."

Sen. Hatch continued, "I like the man personally, but you can like people personally who would not make good judges. I'm giving him every chance I can."

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