Utah Sen. Mike Lee has shifted from being a top mention on President Donald Trump’s short list for Supreme Court nominees earlier this month to becoming a big cheerleader for the appointment of someone else: Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
That comes after Trump has said he will appoint a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. Trump said he will announce his pick on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Lee — a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold confirmation hearings on the nominee — is pushing hard for Barrett.
“I expect that we are going to see Amy Coney Barrett being picked by the president, and I would support that nomination wholeheartedly,” Lee told the national Fox News late Tuesday.
“She’s got a proven track record. She’s someone who understands the difference between judging and lawmaking,” Lee said. “She understands she is there to interpret the law based on what the words say, rather than on the basis of what some social scientist or lawyer might wish that it said.”
“Like other Trump nominees, she has shown an inclination to rule in favor of the rights of the wealthy and powerful over the rights of all,” the liberal Alliance for Justice said, adding that it “strongly opposes the consideration of Barrett for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Lee said conservatives hope for a new justice who matches the mold of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia — for whom Barrett was a clerk — and current Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito (for whom Lee was a clerk).
“Amy Coney Barrett is exactly that kind of nominee," he said. “That’s why I hope and expect it will be her.”
National news media consider Barrett, 48, a front-runner for the nomination, and she has been interviewed this week by Trump. She has served as a federal appeals court judge since 2017 and, if seated, would be the youngest of the high court justices. Trump interviewed her two years ago for a vacancy before instead nominating Brett Kavanaugh.
In March 2019, the news website Axios reported that Trump said of Barrett, “I’m saving her for Ginsburg.”
Four other judges are reported to be on Trump’s current short list.
They include Barbara Lagoa, 52, an 11th Circuit judge (another former clerk for Scalia and a Cuban American); 4th Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing, 37; 6th Circuit Judge Joan Larsen, 51 (who also clerked for Scalia); and deputy White House counsel Kathryn Comerford Todd, 44.