A Utahn on the Supreme Court? Our ‘Political Insiders’ say don’t count on it

When President Trump announces his Supreme Court pick on Monday night, our “Political Insiders” and readers don’t expect Sen. Mike Lee’s name to be called.

Sen. Lee and his brother, Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee, were on a list of 25 possible Supreme Court nominees put out by the White House late last year. When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement at the end of the month, that list became the working document for the Trump administration as they sought to find a replacement. 

The White House interviewed Sen. Lee for the opening on the high court, and several of his Senate colleagues lobbied Trump to pick him. 

Our “Political Insiders” and readers are expecting Trump to tap someone other than the Lee brothers to fill Kennedy’s seat on the court. 

  • Only 9% of the Republicans on our panel expect Trump to pick Sen. Lee. Just 6% of that group think Thomas Lee will be Trump’s selection. 85% believe Trump will go with someone else
  • 100% of the Democrats who responded to our survey said President Trump would pick someone other than the Lee brothers on Monday night.
  • 95% of our readers say Trump is going to pick another candidate, while 5% think Sen. Lee will be nominated.


Trump has promised to pick Supreme Court nominees who are anti-abortion,  leading many to believe that the new court makeup will lead to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision.  

Our “Political Insider” panel does not think the new Supreme Court justice will lead to the Roe v. Wade being reversed. 84% of our Republicans, 61% of our Democrats and 63% of our readers believe Roe v. Wade is settled law, and will not be overturned by the Supreme Court


Selected anonymous comments: 

Both of them are qualified, the politics work against candidates from a small reliably Republican state.

I think the more sobering question for Utah is this: If Mike Lee becomes the next Supreme Court Justice, what names will the Utah Republican Party’s State Central Committee — a body that appears to consist primarily of far-right extremists — send to the Governor? The Governor can only appoint Lee’s replacement from among the names the SCC sends him. The current SCC is likely to send the Governor a list of people who would be entirely unelectable in a public campaign. I know Utah is abuzz with the prospect of a Utahn sitting on the Supreme Court, but I’m more concerned about what happens next. The dual path is significant, but the party is far from irrelevant. I hope this situation will motivate people to learn how to get involved in the party. Good people within the party continue to be critically important to a healthy political process.

No Mormon is going to be confirmed the United States Supreme Court.

Senator Lee is a constitutional conservative and a good choice for the court. Lee satisfies the promises President Trump made to the far right, ensures the court remains conservative for many years to come and opens the door for another Republican senator from Utah.

Thomas Lee is more qualified. If Mike Lee is nominated, it will be difficult to replace him and get a confirmation vote with the required 51 for a conservative appointment. I think they both are outside the top 5 but both in the top 25. I believe it will be someone else. Since Kennedy was liberal on social issues, it will be an interesting hearing.

As much as I wish it was going to be Mike Lee, it will probably be someone else.

Mike Lee’s position on Roe v. Wade would prevent his confirmation. Voting for himself as a senator would probably also look really bad.

In no way does Mike have the credentials & Tom will be the yes-man to no one.

In a bureaucracy it’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. Trump knows Mike Lee from his position on the Judiciary Committee, wants to stay in good with Congress; hence Lee is a front-runner.

At this time, Utah doesn’t have enough political gravitas to have a member of the Supreme Court.

It’s good for President Trump to look like he was considering both of the Lee brothers. But it’s not any benefit to him to actually appoint either of them. The President will do everything he can to make it look like Mike, in particular, is in the running until July 9, when he will announce someone else.

Mike Lee’s self-titled “constitutional scholar” moniker is highly suspect.

Not. Gonna. Happen. Mike is a conservative firebrand, but he is not the legal genius his father was. Justice Thomas Lee would be the better pick, but can you name the last state Supreme Court Justice named directly to the federal SCOTUS? Souter was a State Supreme Court justice for seven years, but was appointed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990 and nominated from there. O’Connor was an appellate level judge in Arizona prior, but still not a State Supreme Court justice. It was William Brennan, in 1956, an associate justice from the New Jersey State Supreme Court. The only other state supreme court justice in recent history to go straight from a state supreme court to SCOTUS is Oliver Holmes in 1902. So the odds are not in Justice Lee’s favor.

I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but if he nominates Mike Lee I WILL vote for him in 2020!

Even with a more solidly conservative court, it’s unlikely that Roe will be overturned.

Roe v. Wade is done. Let’s not cause a nuclear war within our country. Let’s just control the courts, so another Roe v. Wade does not happen.

Roe v Wade is not going to be overturned. That’s just liberal fear mongering.

Trump said he would not ask that question of his candidates. But the next person on the Supreme Court will lead to overturning lots of past decisions.

Roberts will side with the liberals if all 4 conservatives decide to overturn it.

According to Gorsuch, it’s settled law. Wink, wink, laugh, laugh. But they will probably attempt it or at best just weaken it.

We can all hope Roe v. Wade gets overturned, but I doubt the Supreme Court will go that direction and create the furor it would certainly cause. However, the new court can undo a lot of damage the left-leaning court inflicted on America over the last several decades.

Roe v. Wade is so far entrenched that I don’t feel that it will be overturned at this time.

I think the court will narrow Roe and allow states flexibility in when abortions are permitted. But I don’t see a complete outlawing of abortion.

No. As anyone with a legitimate legal background will tell you (not the old guy in your ward with a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, but a real attorney) that Roe was decided on medical privacy grounds. As much as I oppose the practice of abortion, I can not fault its logic or reasoning. My vasectomy is a private decision. My wife’s IUD is a private decision. We both personally oppose abortion, while recognizing the rights of others to act how they feel best. It’s how grownups handle things.

I certainly hope that whoever Trump nominates will lead the charge in overturning Roe v. Wade. Anyone who supports abortion is heartless and barbaric!