It’s a positive sign of the times that constitutional expert Mike Lee of Utah was elected to the U.S. Senate. To make full use of Senator Lee’s extraordinary knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell should appoint Senator Lee to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Lee may be the first of many, as there’s already a 2012 Senate candidates with credentials to match Senator Lee.
Mike Lee has credentials in constitutional law unmatched in the U.S. Senate. The son of former U.S. Solicitor General Rex Lee, Mike Lee graduated from BYU’s law school, where his father was the former dean. From there, Mike Lee clerked for a U.S. district judge, then for Sam Alito when Alito was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. When Judge Alito became Justice Alito, he brought Lee back, making him (to my knowledge) the only current member of the Senate to have clerked for a Supreme Court justice.
Having met Lee and having listened to his speeches, including a speech to lawyers at last year’s Federalist Society convention where Lee was addressing a professional legal audience, it’s clear he has a phenomenally sophisticated understanding of the Supreme Law of the Land. He easily and eloquently speaks about esoteric provisions of the Constitution such as the provision allowing Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal.
(When’s the last time you found yourself in a conversation on that topic? Lee says when your father is Rex Lee, letters of marque was a dinner-table discussion topic in the Lee household.)
In a time where millions are rediscovering the Constitution, Senator Lee’s voice is a national asset. At age 39, he’s also a very young senator, who could be an outspoken educator on our Supreme Law for decades.
Given his superlative legal credentials, there’s one committee that we would all benefit from Lee serving on: the Senate Judiciary Committee. Just picture President Obama’s judicial nominees having to undergo rounds of detailed questions from Senator Lee during their confirmation hearings. And long after President Obama leaves office (hopefully in two years), Senator Lee could equally hold the feet of Supreme Court nominees from Republican presidents to the fire as well. The Constitution knows no party, and no would-be guardian of the Constitution should get a free pass on their way to a lifetime appointment.