Sen. Mike Lee on Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Tariffs, and Congressional Dysfunction

The way Congress crafts spending bills has "effectively disenfranchised almost 300 million Americans."

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Congress is "given a pile of papers, sometimes a couple thousands pages long, a few hours before the expiration of a spending deadline," says Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). "When there's no opportunity for debate, for discussion, for amendment, for individual members to improve [legislation], you've effectively disenfranchised almost 300 million Americans."

Since toppling longtime incumbent Bob Bennett in a 2010 primary and then riding the Tea Party wave to become the junior senator from Utah, Lee has been one of the most careful and liberty-friendly legal minds in public office.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he'll participate in the upcoming confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But he was almost in the hot seat himself: Lee was one of the seven finalists Trump considered to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Lee talked with Reason about the Supreme Court selection process, Kavanaugh's Fourth Amendment views, and the senator's longstanding goal to get a sentencing reform bill on President Trump's desk.

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Shot by Paul Detrick and Alexis Garcia. Edited by Detrick.

Photos of Sen. Mike Lee, Credit: Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom

Photo of Sen. Mike Lee walking, Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Armadillo by Silent Partner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary_download?vid=cfa8d2f35697f58e&f=m

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  1. I see a guy like this, and listen to him, and for a brief moment my cynicism fades and think maybe we aren’t fucked with a dick big enough for an elephant.

    Then I snap back to reality.

    1. “Then I snap back to reality.” Great butt what about all the sphincters out there worried by your daunting imagery? Inquiring sphincters want to know.

      1. Easy, just carry the “snap back” metaphor all the way through.

    2. Damn the penumbras, full weed ahead?

  2. One of my fantasy changes to the Constitution is the entire bill-making process.

    Any legislator could introduce any bill at any time.

    After 30 days of public review, you tally how many legislators have approved the bill. You have to get 2/3 in every chamber to become law.

    Any changes to the bill restart the 30 day clock.

    Every law can be repealed if 1/2 of the legislators in any chamber sign a petition to repeal it.

    As an emergency escape valve, bills become law immediately if they get 90% approval as an emergency measure. But if that law is ever repealed or found defective, every legislator who approved it as an emergency measure can no longer receive any government benefit, for life.

    You’d still have parties penalizing members who go against their wishes. But you’d get more mavericks bucking the party system, and you’d put a huge crimp in legislators not reading bills.

  3. Well done interview.

  4. I split my feelings over the 4th amendment in two parts. I want the strictest possible limits on searches used as evidence, and believe that is relatively easy to enforce because trials are public. What I don’t get excited about is NSA snooping, because enforcing such limits is just about impossible to enforce. It is just too easy to sneak around it.

    I have read some of his book Written Out of History and it has a tendency to be overwrought; a few too many adverbs and adjectives. Not histrionic, but you can hear the emotion and excitement in this interview, and the book is a little too close to the edge where I get suspicious of what wasn’t said. It’s a lot easier to take in conversation. He would write some interesting decisions. I wish he would get on the Supreme Court.

    Re: his bill to protect Utah from federal land grabs for national monuments: why specific to Utah? Why not make ti for all such designations? Ugh.

  5. How about Rand Paul & Lee in 2020?

    1. Oh gak. Rand Paul has caved on his “libertarian” leanings so many times, I’m seeing Ayn Rand reaching her hand up from her grave and taking her name away from him.

  6. Excellent interview, both of them. Matt, thank you for asking about the Antiquities Act, AND letting Mike Lee so ably discuss it.

    Sadly, I pretty much feel the same as Iheartskeet above. Nevertheless, keep up the good fight.

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