Sen. Mike Lee is on President Trump’s shortlist of nominees for the Supreme Court. But, Trump is reportedly taking a hard look at the Utah Senator for the high court.
Bloomberg reports on Thursday that Trump is asking advisers their opinions about nominating Lee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy who is retiring at the end of July.
Trump hasn’t settled on a favorite yet for the nomination, two of the people said. And even as the president mulls the 47-year-old Lee as a potential choice, the search for Kennedy’s successor remains wide open.
Trump thinks Lee would be easily confirmed by the Senate, but the president has expressed concern about keeping his Senate seat in Republican hands, one person said. All of the people spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations.
He has been assured the seat will remain safely Republican, the person said. Trump complained that he was told the same about the Alabama Senate seat held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who wound up replaced by Democrat Doug Jones.
Trump is actively considering other candidates. Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is said to be another top contender.
Lee has spoken out against the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, which would make him attractive to Trump who has promised to pick anti-abortion justices. However, Lee never endorsed Trump during the 2016 presidential race, even after Trump won the GOP nomination.
On Wednesday, Lee told reporters he “would not say no” if Trump decided to nominate him for the high court.
If Lee is chosen by Trump to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, his successor in the Utah Senate would be chosen by Gov. Gary Herbert.