Sen. Mike Lee says Kavanaugh is the ‘kind of originalist jurist we need on the court’

Washington • Sen. Mike Lee signaled Wednesday that he would back Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after meeting with President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court.

“It was a pleasure meeting Judge Kavanaugh today,” Lee said in a statement after the two chatted. “His insight into the current state of the law and the Constitution shows he is just the kind of originalist jurist we need on the court.”

Lee, whom Trump had also considered for the Supreme Court vacancy being left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, praised Kavanaugh’s nomination when the president announced it but reserved judgment on whether he’d vote for him.

“I look forward to the process in the Senate, getting to know Judge Kavanaugh and his family better in coming months, and, hopefully, voting to confirm him to the Supreme Court in the fall,” Lee said on July 9.

Also Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch spoke on the Senate floor urging Democrats not to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination because of politics.

“By any honest measure, President Trump's nominee, Judge Kavanaugh, is exceptionally well qualified to serve on the Supreme Court,” Hatch said, calling Kavanaugh a “good man, a decent man, an honest man.”

“Judge Kavanaugh is the type of person we should all hope is nominated to a seat on the United States Supreme Court,” Hatch continued. “And that’s why I’m so pleased that President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh. I intend to do everything I can to support his nomination, and I hope that all other senators will do the same.”

It’s unclear how Democrats will vote. But minority party members have repeatedly pointed to the 2016 stonewalling by Republicans of President Barack Obama’s high court nominee, Merrick Garland. While Garland’s judicial record had been praised by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — including Hatch — he was denied a Senate confirmation hearing, let alone a floor vote.