PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. — Sen. Mike Lee told a large gathering of libertarian donors that President Donald Trump’s eventual nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court is going to be confirmed by the Senate.
“It’s a fantastic list,” he said of the names floated as in the running for Trump’s nomination. “I’m very confident that whoever the president nominates is going to get confirmed…. I can tell you this: At the end of the day, any one of the people that President Trump is looking at will be confirmed by the Senate– we will make sure of that.”
Lee is a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
And on the dozens of upcoming nominations for the lower courts, the Utah Republican said, “all of those should be able to get confirmed easily in the Republican Senate.”
The leading contender, Neil Gorsuch, currently sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Other top candidates include 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Hardiman, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Sykes, and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Pryor. Trump has announced that he will announce his pick on Feb. 2.
Lee was joined on stage by Sens. Pat Toomey and James Lankford. Their panel, moderated by Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, was at a dinner on day one of Charles and David Koch’s libertarian Seminar Network at the in Palm Springs, Calif. on Saturday.
Held twice a year, the seminars are a gathering place for the Seminar Network, a large group of wealthy donors interested in libertarian causes. This weekend’s seminar, held in the temperate desert outside of Los Angeles, will be the first since the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump. The network spent hundreds of millions on advertising and advocacy for limited-government politicians — namely, Republicans — running for the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, but notably stayed out of the presidential primaries and race. They also scaled back their initial spending projections. The network is co-chaired by Charles Koch Institute President Brian Hooks and Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries. (RELATED: As Trump Presidency Dawns, Kochs Plan To Bring Hundreds Of Millions To Bear On Next Two Years)
Of the three senators, Lankford was the only tepid backer of Trump, saying he would support the nominee and frequently dodging press requests to weigh in on specific incidents. Toomey withheld endorsement of Trump, though didn’t rule it out, and was a frequent critic. On Election Day, he said he was voting for Trump. Lee, who is a close friend of Sen. Ted Cruz and represents Utah’s quieter, more conflict-adverse Mormon Republican electorate, urged Trump to quit in October and declined to endorse him throughout the election. (RELATED: Three Republican Senators Kick Off Koch’s First Massive Donor Conference In Age Of Trump)
“The Supreme Court, for the past 50, 60, 70 years, has taken on an increasingly political role,” Lee complained. “Of those three branches, you’ve got only one branch that’s supposed to make the law. The Supreme Court apparently didn’t get that memo…. There’s a reason the court has become so political, and it’s because the court itself has become political.” (RELATED: Charles Koch Calls For Action: ‘We Might Not Have An Opportunity Again Like We Have Today’)
Called “A Time to Lead,” the meeting is hosted at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa, and is focused on local, grassroots initiatives Americans can take in what Hooks called “the key institutions of society”– “education, community, business and government.”
There are around 550 individuals included in the “principals” network meeting, which requires at least $100,000 donation to the network. In addition to these invited people, there are approximately 150 staff and speakers, Seminar Network spokesman James Davis told reporters. There is also a larger press presence than any previous conference has allowed.
Editor’s Note: Christopher Bedford was a fellow at the Charles Koch Institute in 2010.