Meet the senator on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist

Source: The Hill | July 8, 2018 | Jordain Carney

The Senate could be debating one of its own as it works to fill retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court.

GOP Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) is being touted by conservatives as a dark-horse pick that would stick to the letter of the Constitution, unlike previous Republican nominees who have frustrated the base by moving to the middle once on the court.

Lee, a 47-year-old senator in his second term, is known for his hardball conservative tactics. Those tactics, at times, have rankled his colleagues and his libertarian-leanings have made him an outlier in the GOP caucus on issues like foreign policy.

But as the only lawmaker on Trump’s short list he’s got the vocal backing of Senate conservatives, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas). Cruz has launched a one-man public relations campaign to vocally tout Lee, one of his closest Senate allies, as Trump mulls his nominee to be Kennedy’s successor.

“President Trump, however, has lucked out. He has a sure thing, battle-tested, ready, and willing to serve: Sen. Mike Lee,” Cruz wrote in a Fox News op-ed.

Roughly 20 conservatives—including GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who is also close to Lee, and powerful donor Rebekah Mercer—have signed a letter backing Lee because he has a “proven record,” according to the Associated Press.

Lee has publicly expressed interest in the job noting that he’s been watching Supreme Court arguments “for fun” since he was 10 years old. He previously served as the former assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Utah and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

A Lee pick could also help him easily clear the chamber, where senators are wary to vote against a former colleague from their own party.

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Perhaps his biggest roadblock to getting the nod from a president who puts a premium on loyalty: He didn’t vote for Trump during the 2016 election, instead supporting independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin.

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  •  EVERYDAY #24420

    I like Mike Lee. His alignment with Cruz may or may not be in his favor in the Senate. On the one hand, Cruz is a thorn in the side with most Senators, including those in his own party, and anyone associated with Ted Cruz is also disliked. On the other hand, some Senators might be only too happy to be rid of Lee for just that reason.

    But one problem I see is that Lee has no judicial experience. He is a solid conservative, but I think most people would like to have a record of prior rulings in a lower court judiciary. Of course, Lee doesn’t have any prior ruling history to review. And that may make him something of an unknown quantity among Republicans and Democrats.

    I’d be ok with Lee on the Court if he were chosen, but I think his chances of even being nominated are slim to none.

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