At the passing of Senator Orrin G. Hatch on April 23, 2022, BYU Studies joins in honoring this outstanding public servant, who has been called “the most important Utah politician since Brigham Young.” Senator Hatch served seven terms in the United States Senate (1977 to 2019), the longest period in office of any Republican. During his tenure, he presided over three major Senate committees: Labor and Human Resources, Judiciary, and Finance. In 2017, he also was elected to the position of president pro tempore of the Senate.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called Senator Hatch “a focused and diligent senator,” and former Oregon senator Gordon H. Smith explained Hatch fought for what he believed in for the country but never considered those of the other party enemies. Hatch sought to accommodate perspectives different from his own. “He mastered the art of finding the commonsense center that is necessary to the making of laws,” Smith said. Working with, rather than against, the other party, he saw over 750 bills into law, more than any other senator in history.
Because of his impoverished childhood and youth, Hatch understood the difficulties faced by the disadvantaged. To support them, he authored such legislation as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act (known as Hatch-Waxman), which created the modern generic drug industry. He also authored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Hatch was a devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who knelt in prayer early each morning in his Senate office, asking the Lord for inspiration. At Hatch’s funeral, President Dallin H. Oaks read a tribute from the First Presidency praising Senator Hatch for “his life of significant achievement,” his “remarkable commitment to protecting religious freedom and unity,” and his “service to the Church.”
Family members noted their father’s deep love of their mother, Elaine Hatch; his infectious laugh; his pride in his six children; his delight in his grandchildren and great grandchildren; his thrift; his love of all Utah sports and especially BYU’s; and his song writing. BYU Studies also recognizes this gifted leader and his exemplary life.