If, as rumored, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retires at the end of the court’s current term, President Donald Trump would get the second nomination of his first term. There’s some speculation that Utah Sen. Mike Lee may be on the short list of possible nominees if that were to happen.
Ozy.com reports that Lee was on a list of 25 possible Supreme Court nominees released by the White House last November. “I would not turn that down,” Lee is reported as saying.
“You don’t always get a monument in your name, or big buildings named after you, for arguing to limit government,” Lee says. But do you get a black robe and an office on First Street? The argument from Lee’s backers rests in part on his relationship with the 99 egos across the street in the Senate. “The president has to calculate what kind of battle does he want for the fall,” says Boyd Matheson, a former Lee chief of staff and president of the Sutherland Institute think tank. “From a political standpoint, it would be very hard for Chuck Schumer to come in and say, ‘This is not the guy.’ ”
In any case, a full White House endorsement might be tough to come by, considering that Lee publicly told then-candidate Trump to drop out of the presidential race after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape of Trump gabbing about sexual assault. There’s even another Lee on Trump’s list — Mike’s brother, Thomas, a Utah Supreme Court justice whom Mike Lee has said would “arguably be the best choice.”
But Mike Lee’s constitutionally driven mindset and willingness to hear disparate viewpoints would be assets for any judge. It’s taken him to unorthodox political places, such as teaming up with liberals on criminal justice reform. Lee reflects that while justices are treated “like living oracles,” they are strikingly human, just like the constitutional characters he learns from. “What was true then about human nature remains true today,” Lee says, as he writes his own chapter within that storied history.