Lee seems tailor-made for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Aside from Supreme Court nominees, every nominee to the federal appeals courts and the district courts go through that committee. Bills for reforming the courts or creating new judgeships go through that committee. Proposed constitutional amendments go through that committee. They also oversee the U.S. Justice Department. Each of these items has “Mike Lee” written all over it.
It should not be a problem for Lee that his senior colleague from Utah, Senator Orrin Hatch, also sits on the committee. (For that matter, Hatch is the former chairman of the committee.) Senator Hatch has served in the Senate since 1976, and is expected to run for reelection in 2012. Hatch has been a prominent authority on constitutional law throughout his tenure.
The Senate operates on seniority. The sooner Mike Lee has enough seniority under his belt to one day follow Hatch as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the better. Given Lee’s spectacular qualifications, the Republican caucus should welcome having both Utah senators on that committee.
And Lee should soon have company, because Ted Cruz has announced he’s running for the open U.S. Senate seat from Texas in 2012.
As impressive as Senator Lee’s constitutional credentials are, Cruz easily matches them. Ted Cruz is a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, who clerked for Judge Michael Luttig on the Fourth Circuit (a longtime Supreme Court frontrunner) and then for Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the Supreme Court. Cruz is the former Texas solicitor general, where he argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including a major win for religious liberty in the 2005 case Van Orden v. Perry, and the 2008 state-sovereignty case Medellin v. Texas. He’s an unapologetic conservative and—in case you missed his name—he’s also Hispanic.
General Cruz is heavily favored to win this Senate seat. After that, Senator Cruz should likewise immediately be given a seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Currently age 40, the thought of Senators Lee and Cruz both on the Senate Judiciary Committee should make conservatives nothing short of giddy. In an age of judicial activism and significant turnover on the federal courts, America needs all the constitutional conservatives we can get in the U.S. Senate. For senators with such extraordinary credentials, it’s a no-brainer that they should be on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senators like Mike Lee are part of a new generation of conservatives, restoring fidelity to the Constitution in Washington’s corridors of power.