U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah allegedly told a Federalist Society luncheon on Tuesday that the Senate may have to confirm a liberal Supreme Court nominee if Hillary Clinton is elected president in November.
According to professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University Law School, Lee told the lunch time crowd at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cleveland, near this week’s Republican National Convention, that it would not be politically tenable for Senate Republicans to hold a seat open on the Supreme Court for four years should Clinton prevail in the presidential election.
However, an event organizer denied the senator made comments to that effect.
“He did not say that,” the organizer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I don’t recall Clinton even being mentioned during his speech.”
Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
The remarks carry special consequence as Lee sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel tasked with evaluating Supreme Court nominees and making recommendations to fellow senators.
Another Republican senator made a similar admission. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters in May that the Senate should confirm Judge Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court, in a lame duck session after the election if Hillary Clinton is elected.
“But I don’t think my view is shared by too many of my colleagues,” Flake said. “Or enough of my colleagues to do it.”
Lee himself is an accomplished lawyer. A former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, he practiced with Sidley Austin’s appellate and Supreme Court practice group before joining Utah Governor Jon Hunstman’s administration as general counsel.
Garland, tied Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis for the longest pending nomination at 125 days on Tuesday.
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