During a parade of visits to key Senate Republicans on Tuesday, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett huddled with Utah Sen. Mike Lee, drawing more of the praise that he has lavished on her even before President Donald Trump named her.
“I was remarkably impressed by Judge Barrett. My meeting with her was fantastic," Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on her nomination, said after the visit.
"She is a judge, a legal scholar, a lawyer, and a jurist with outstanding credentials. We had a great conversation and I am very much looking forward to speaking with her more during her confirmation hearing.”
They apparently also waded into some deep-into-the-weeds issues. Lee told reporters they spoke about “non meritorious dispositive motion to deny versus a meritorious motion,” which Lee called a “sexy nuts and bolts” issue for the two lawyers.
Barrett also met Tuesday with other Republicans who will be key to her confirmation, including GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee with whom she met included Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Crapo of Idaho. She also visited with Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota and Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rick Scott of Florida.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is scheduled to meet with Barrett on Wednesday.
Barrett, who has served on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2017, was nominated on Saturday by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court created by the death this month of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Several Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have already said they will not meet with Barrett. They complain that Republicans four years ago blocked consideration of Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, by saying his nomination came too close to the election but are pushing Barrett now, even as early voting has started in some states.
Lee and Romney have argued that voting on Barrett before the election follows both the Constitution and historical precedent, arguing that when a president’s party controls the Senate it usually has confirmed his election-year nominees to the high court. But when different parties control the White House and Senate, election-year nominees usually are rejected.
Lee has been unapologetic about that, saying the Senate is a political body and no one should be surprised that Republicans wield political power when they have it.
Lee was at the White House on Saturday when Trump nominated Barrett, and the Utah senator tweeted a selfie and a photo of Trump and said, “Excited to see history made! #FillTheSeat”.
In a statement soon after, Lee said Barrett will be “devoted to the principle of constitutionally limited government. That’s what President Trump promised his voters. And we are going to keep our promise to the voters who elected us.”
Romney has also praised Barrett as “a highly respected jurist with distinguished legal and academic credentials.” He has not yet vowed to vote for her, and said he looks forward to meet with her and review her qualifications.
Romney paved the way earlier this month to allow consideration of Barrett when he decided to stick with his party, and declined to join a couple other Republicans who said confirmation should wait until after the election. Romney’s decision provided just enough support to ensure a vote on Barrett before the election.
Graham said earlier this week that the Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for Barrett on Oct. 12 and expects to hold a committee vote on Oct. 22. That sets up a potential full Senate vote by the end of the month. Election Day is Nov. 3.