Mike Lee

Could Sen. Mike Lee Replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court?

His is one of 25 names on the White House's official list of potential Supreme Court picks.


Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has written his final opinion and will retire from the bench later this summer. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has an idea about who might be a suitable replacement.

"If somebody asked me if I would consider that, I would not say no," Lee told reporters on Wednesday, not long after news broke that the 81-year-old Kennedy would be retiring. That's quite a change from two years ago, when Lee quickly shot down rumors that he would be interested in a Supreme Court appointment.

Lee might very well be asked. His is one of 25 names on the White House's official list of potential Supreme Court picks—a list that was originally put together by Donald Trump's campaign prior to the 2016 election and was most recently updated, according to the White House website where the list now resides, last November. Trump on Wednesday indicated that Kennedy's replacement would be drawn from that list, which also includes Lee's brother Thomas, who currently sits on the Utah Supreme Court.

It's likely that we will know the identify of Trump's second Supreme Court nominee pretty soon. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that Kennedy's replacement could be confirmed before the midterm elections in November, and rank-and-file Republicans want confirmation hearings to be held sometime in August or September. Everything else that might be on the congressional agenda for the second half of the year—although there wasn't much—seems to have been knocked down a peg.

How serious is Lee's bid to be the first sitting senator named to the Supreme Court since Hugo Black in 1937? He's probably not a front-runner, as even he acknowledged Wednesday, noting that his lack of judicial experience would likely count against him.

Still, conservatives have plenty of reasons to like the prospect of a Justice Mike Lee. "I think the single best choice the president could make to fill this vacancy is Senator Mike Lee," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN on Wednesday. "I think he would be extraordinary." When he was seeking the White House in 2016, Cruz indicated that Lee would be his top pick to fill the vacancy that then existed on the high court.

Lee has been short-listed for the Court by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. He has received positive reviews from conservative legal experts and top Republican donors (the details of which were explored by The Washington Post in April 2016, when Lee's name was bubbling around the GOP primary field as a possible SCOTUS pick) and would surely enjoy broad support from his fellow Senate Republicans. And Lee's history of sharply criticizing NSA spying and his support for criminal justice reform would make it "at least possible that one or more liberal-minded senators might give him some degree of support," as Reason's Damon Root noted around the same time.

If Republicans see this Supreme Court vacancy as a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion—and there are some indications that they do—Lee again fits the bill. He authored the bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C.

Possibly the best argument for Lee: He is just 47*. That would make him the youngest justice since the 1960s, allowing Republicans to reshape the Court until the middle of the century, assuming that Lee would serve at least 30 years.

Losing one of the few senators with libertarian sympathies would be a blow for those who want to see Congress reassert itself as a coequal branch of government responsible for checking, rather than enabling, the power of the executive branch. Still, libertarians would be hard pressed to find much reason to complain about Lee sitting on the Supreme Court, where he could fill Kennedy's "swing vote" role and steer the court in an originalist direction.

This post has been updated to correct the age of Sen. Mike Lee. He is 47, not 44.

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  1. Utah is almost guaranteed to elect a suitable replacement (ie, not a proggie).

    1. Yeah, Sessions thought that, too.

    2. I’d rather get Lee on the court and get a RINO for Utah in Congress. Assuming Trump nominates Lee, and with his Gorsuch nomination, he’d be the most libertarian president in at least 80 years.

      While I voted for Johnson, Trump has turned out far better than I hoped. It appears Trump, like his predecessors, lied to get elected. But instead of hiding their big government desires as the Bushes, the Clintons and Obama did, it seems Trump was hiding his libertarian leanings. After all, he first attacked Rand Paul in the first debate, not because he didn’t like Paul (he’s met privately with Paul many times), but because he saw Paul as his biggest competition. At least that’s my opinion.

  2. Can he vote for his own confirmation?

    1. Yeah, because if he can’t that’s unnecessarily making the vote much too close.

      1. With McCain out it would be 49-49 if Lee couldn’t vote too. How well does he get along with the rest of his colleagues? Cruz’s recommendation might not carry much weight with the rest of the senate

        1. No Republican senator is going to risk delaying confirmation to the mid terms.

        2. I think he might get the support of Ron Wyden on the Dem side of the aisle. They have worked together on civil liberty issues (fighting the police state). Of course that depends on how the politics play out.

  3. OT: At least he wasn’t playing alone in the backyard


    On the afternoon of June 20, Anthony was rushed to a hospital from his apartment in the 1100 block of East Avenue K after L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call that he had been injured and was not breathing.

    Barron and Leiva told first responders he was injured as a result of an accidental fall. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that Avalos died of head trauma and had cigarette burns all over his body at the time of his death. The medical examiner has not yet released a cause of death.

    The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services admitted to CBS2 Monday that it had been aware of abuse allegations at Avalos’ home for several years.

    “The county is suffering a senseless murder of an innocent child, allegedly at the hands of someone inside the home, while law enforcement, social workers, and family preservation workers all interacted with the family,” Barger said in a statement Monday. “We need to identify how our previous efforts to enhance and expand services and integrate county partners have succeeded, and determine where there are continual gaps and barriers. Through this assessment, we will also take a closer look at the quality and availability of services provided in the Antelope Valley, in particular.”

    1. The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services admitted to CBS2 Monday that it had been aware of abuse allegations at Avalos’ home for several years.

      Brandon Nichols, deputy director of DCFS said that Avalos told his mother “he liked boys and girls.” DCFS said it will examine whether homophobia is a factor.

      Kevin Spacey sexually assaults 14-yr.-old Anthony Rapp, and we all get a reminder that pedophilia, while terrible, has nothing to do with homosexuality. A home with a track record of abuse needs to be investigated for violently homophobia because a 10-yr.-old said something that was in no way sexual. I’m honestly having trouble deciding which is more sick.

      1. Anything progressivism touches is infected with their evil.

        1. This is true. I used to think they were just wrong, misguided, or dumb. Now it’s apparent they are something quite a bit worse than that.

        2. Seriously, when the worst possible thing (as defined by most people) happens they have to argue semantics to determine if it’s bad enough for them to care about. Sickos

    2. “The county is suffering”
      A child is tortured and murdered, but the county is suffering.
      Beginning to think the boats is occasionally warranted.

  4. In terms of “bang for the buck”, I’d trade a libertarian-friendly Senator for a libertarian-friendly Supreme Court Justice any day of the week.

    1. The actions of the lib-friendly senator would be invalidated by the decisions of an unfriendly justice.

      I’d take the justice.

  5. They’d need one more judge to overturn Roe vs Wade, as Roberts would not be the deciding vote in Obamacare, he’s certainly not going to in overturning Roe vs Wade

    1. But the left is out there beating a huge drum saying that they will. I have already seen a number of posts on my FB feed saying hundreds of women are gonna die in back alley abortion clinics. The fear mongering is already beginning in the media and social media. It is like the Remy Song


    2. The Democrats point in injecting Roe VS Wade into this is to raise money and GTOV (get out the vote) for November midterms. This will work if they can delay confirmation (and there are a couple of narrow paths where they can).

  6. My dark horse candidate to be the pick: Amy Coney Barrett.

    Picking a woman would buy him (and the republicans) some goodwill before the election, and they could use it. Things like that really shouldn’t matter, but they do.

    1. One of our most sexist commenters makes a sexist comment that is also dead on.

      Props, Beagle Sock Thing.

      1. I love women. Well, normal women, not man-hating feminazis or Hate America First types.

      2. I also think she would be a pretty solid choice, although not one of my top two preferences.

    2. Go with Janice Rogers Brown instead and brace for the lulz as proggies simultaneously justify misogyny like they do with Sarah Palin and racism like they do with Clarence Thomas.

      1. Janice Rogers Brown would probably be my top choice based on jurisprudence alone. Factor in the proggie tears and inevitable self-destruction when they let loose all the sexism and racism that they secretly harbor (yet accuse their political opponents of having), and…win, win, win.

        1. She is too old.

    3. Is she hot?

      1. Fuck yes. Especially for a woman her age who has had seven children (and two more adopted ones).

  7. If Republicans see this Supreme Court vacancy as a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion?and there are some indications that they do?Lee again fits the bill. He authored the bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C.

    This is genuinely terrifying. I thought Neil Gorsuch was a dangerous right-wing extremist, but Mike Lee could be even worse. Drumpf’s attempt to transform this country into The Handmaid’s Tale would get a substantial boost with this madman on the Supreme Court. The Democrats must use every legal tactic available to prevent his confirmation.


    1. I lose you every time you say Drumpf.

      1. I’ll try to mix it up with more “Orange Hitler” and “Putin’s Puppet” from now on.

        1. ‘Citrus Hitler’ has a better ring to it, but it might be too subtle for deplorable to realize they’re being mocked.

        2. I’ll try to mix it up with more “Orange Hitler” and “Putin’s Puppet” from now on.

          Gotta throw a “Cheeto” in there every now and again.

        3. “Putin’s Puppet” sounds like a particularly creepy euphemism

          1. I think it’s “Putin’s Buttplug” because Putin is so clearly closeted and Trump is always up his ass.

    2. Maybe Ted Cruz will get the nomination. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

      America will be truly great again, and the porgies will writhe in agony!

      1. You misspelled “proggies” or “porgies.”

        Now I’m thinking about “prog orgies.”

        Why you gotta do me like that, son?

      2. and the porgies will writhe in agony!

        But what will the Besses do?

        1. I’m getting real fucking tired of the incessant Gershwin jokes on this fucking website.

      3. Nah, if you want to see heads explode nominate Ann Coulter. Or see heads explode, and have a solid Justice Condeleeza Rice.

    3. Yes because overturning a constitutionally absurd decision and returning the matter to the States, where it rightfully belongs, would be horrible.

      1. Roe v. Wade is a terrific decision based on solid Constitutional reasoning. Overturning it would be among the worst mistakes the Supreme Court has ever made, and would be disastrous for the physical and mental health of ciswomen, transmen, and nonbinary people with vaginas.

      2. Because murdering a right to privacy that restraints govt force because you’re motivated by psychotic religious delusions is sooooooo libertarian.

        1. Treating the abortion question as though it’s not an immensely complicated issue about which people can have a good faith difference of opinion makes you stupid or a liar, probably both.

          1. “Treating the abortion question as though it’s not an immensely complicated issue about which people can have a good faith difference of opinion makes you stupid or a liar, probably both.”

            That might be the most intelligent thing I’ve seen in all the comments I’ve read today.

          2. Exactly. No one in the science would assert one day after birth represents a substantive brain difference than one day before.

            Serious people know there is no bright line. If you have a background in biology you know that asserting a clump of 256 cells is a human being is an absurd assertion, or even a few orders of magnitude more is still less of a central nervous system than a worm. Yet they also know that asserting a asserting a child that is one day before birth is somehow different than one day after, is as absurd. For that matter asserting an advanced senility adult is more human than a seven month fetus is in many ways not defensible.

            I know many sober people who are pro choice, including myself, who are are GLAD there are people raising ethical concerns.

            Establishing a line, like age or majority, is messy and the closer you get to a consensus line the messier it is.

            Intelligent people with background in ethics or biology know any place any line is drawn has as many arguments on one side as the other.

            Letting vehement pro choice and vehement pro life people into the argument is a very good thing — even though both positions can’t be where we end.

        2. Not sure murdering is the term you want to use here…

          1. Too close to what, really happens during an abortion?
            Can’t let that happen, can we?

    4. Love the fake libertarian with his/her #resist tag. The more upset the left gets the more delicious

  8. He could not be confirmed. Too many R’s would find him toxic. It only takes 2, in fact, assuming that 0 D’s (not a bad assumption) will vote for ANY Trump pick these days.They got 3 D’s for Gorsuch, but not this time.


    1. Joe Manchin is absolutely going to vote ‘Yes’ for whoever Trump picks, I promise you.

      Feel free to go ahead and bookmark this right now if you don’t think so.

      1. Just remember Reagan’s guy gave us gay sex and gay marriage you motherfucker. That sounds impossible but it happened.

        1. You sound very, very butthurt over this. You’re all butthurt, aren’t you?

      2. Why do you assume he is intolerant and ignorant — because he is from West Virginia?

        1. Worry more about the East and West coastal states where people are outright psychopaths:

  9. He has received positive reviews from conservative legal experts and top Republican donors

    Not a good sign. “Top Republican donors” is pretty much a euphemism for “pro-open borders”.

    I’ll pass on this one.

  10. Trump should announce in his speech tonight that he is nominating Judge Napolitano.
    The shock would give RBG a heart attack, and the Trump would get two for one.
    And the collective hysteria of the left would be beyond amusing.

    1. The ongoing hysteria on the left isn’t amusing right now?

      1. The combination of glee on the right and hysteria on the left is actually kind of sickening me now. It getting worse would be very, very disturbing.

      2. Prog tears were delicious, but I’m sated.
        Now I’m dreading the blue wave enema payback that’s coming.

        1. I agree. That’s why I’m no longer in the news cycle. I just can’t take it anymore.

        2. Yeah, I’ve still got a generous supply of prog tears from Nov 16. I’ll donate some to the Strategic Prog Tear Reserve.

        3. So you’re tired of winning?

    2. Napolitano would be priceless. Although if he ever wrote the majority opinion there’d be a lot of question marks for a Supreme Court decision

  11. Lee won’t even be considered. His soft position on DACA and opposition to mandatory minimums for repeat border offenders shoots him down.

    1. Der hur watch me shoe horn my hobby horse into an unrelated topic.

  12. So I came here hoping for another 3 or 4 stories about immigrant infants being ripped from their mothers breasts but Kennedy sucked up all the pixels. Sad.

  13. C’mon, it’s gonna be Judge Jeannine. Or his sister. Or maybe Joe Arpaio.

    1. Nah. He could try Bork again though.

      1. Bork or Lou Reed.

      2. Former nominee Robert Bork? It’s a bit late. He died in 2012.

        1. Didn’t even know he was sick.

          1. We never did get together for that lunch date.

        2. RBG died in 2008, and *she’s* still on the court.

  14. Smart guy. But can be unpredictable at times

  15. Lee chose this year to publish Written Out of History, with praise for some of the Antifederalists. I checked it out of the library to avoid the rush in case he gets nominated – which I’m not sure he will be due to the views expressed in books like this.

    1. You read the federalist and anti-federalist papers, (They should be read together, they’re a debate.) and it’s hard to avoid noticing that the anti-federalists were actually right about a lot of what would happen if the Constitution was adopted.

  16. As if this couldn’t get any worse, Kennedy’s retirement is also a gift to the gun fetishists. From Huffington Post:

    Goodbye Justice Kennedy And Goodbye Gun Control

    Drumpf will undoubtedly try to install an NRA stooge, so Democratic #Resistance is absolutely essential. They must prevent the confirmation of a right-wing ideologue who thinks gun rights are protected by the Constitution, but abortion rights are not.

    1. Your tone and words make me wonder who the stooge really is.

    2. This one seemed too tame. Needed more Leftist outrage.

    3. The gun ban lobby keeps saying this, they got their handgun bans, most people oppose them, they were obviously unconditional, yet they keep pushing ban/confiscation schemes.

      Keep promoting banning law abiding citizens from having any firearms — you will help the right.

    4. NRA has 58% approvals among the US public. Your gun ban lobby outspends them more than 10:1 despite no gun control lobby group having more than 3,000 paid members in the entire country.

      The only “stooges” are the those paid by people like Bloomberg to support shredding the constitution (it is no accident he vastly widened stop and frisk to conistutional levels).

      By the way over 80% of Americans “think” gun rights are protected by the constitution.

    5. Yes, because we must stick with a “right” that was made up, out of whole cloth, and dispense with one explicitly mentioned in the document.
      If you hate what the Constitution actually says, and like what it doesn’t, why not move someplace where those two things are reversed in their Constitution?

  17. I looked into Mike Lee’s record when Scalia died because he was on the list to replace him too and he seemed like a social conservative to me. So I dont really don’t see why a libertarian site would say libertarians wouldn’t have much reason to complain. Conservatives wouldn’t, but libertarians aren’t conservatives.

    1. conservatives wouldn’t, but libertarians aren’t conservatives.

      The data clearly show that the vast majority of libertarians will align with conservatives in second, alternative or run off choice as well as coalition and caucus choices. About 17:1In the most recent election second choice among libertarians was 85% GOP and under 5% Hillary. That runs about the same was Greens (much smaller group than libertarians).

      If you look above you have some hard core Democrats (eg Arthur Kirkland and “open borders libertarian” ) who post history is entirely hard core Democrat and always in opposition to certain core libertarian positions faking being libertarians. I bet they never voted libertarian in their life. For example left libertarians tend to be to the right of the GOP on gun control, yet those self claimed left libertarians are to the left of the DNC.

  18. Ann Coulter for the Supreme Court!

  19. The lineup, with McCain’s illness, is 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats. Lee might have to vote for himself if nominated for the Supreme Court. Could he do so legally?

  20. And he would make liberal heads explode… Anything that makes them shit their pants is good. Bring on Civil War 2.0

  21. Trump is going to pick a bible thumper for the next nominee; don’t expect another Gorsuch, they are out to get rid of Roe v. Wade before democrats can get back in power enough to decide the next couple of Supreme Court seats.

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