Ted Cruz Floats 'Robe' for Mike Lee

Cruz said Lee "would look pretty good in a robe." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Mike Lee hasn't endorsed in the presidential contest, but he appeared Thursday in South Carolina with both of his Senate Republican colleagues seeking the White House — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  

And Cruz, who hasn't tipped his hand about whom he'd like to see on the Supreme Court, said at an event at a barbecue joint in Easley that, "I think Mike would look pretty good in a robe."  

While appointing someone like Lee to the Supreme Court would be unusual in recent history, he has the kind of track record that Cruz has long talked about. Lee's father Rex served as solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, and the senator clerked on the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit for current Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito.  

Cruz was talking about the Supreme Court long before it became a campaign  issue after the unexpected death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. At least as far back as early fall, Cruz spoke regularly about the choice that President George H.W. Bush had a choice between submitting the name of the conservative Judge Edith Jones and his eventual choice, the more moderate David Souter, for a Supreme Court vacancy. Cruz has also spoken out against the selection of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., particularly his conditioned support for the Affordable Care Act.  

Cruz argues against the practice of nominating people with limited paper trails on the assumption that they can move more easily through the Senate confirmation process, citing examples in which Republicans have been burned, particularly with Souter, who often sided with the Supreme Court's liberal bloc.  

"If, instead, President Bush had appointed Edith Jones, and Mike Luttig which is who I would have appointed, Obamacare would have been struck down three years ago, and the marriage laws of all 50 states would be on the books," Cruz said in a debate sponsored by CNN back in September, a comment he has since repeated in his stump speech.  

Contact Lesniewski at nielslesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @nielslesniewski

See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site.

NEW! Download the Roll Call app for the best coverage of people, politics and personalities of Capitol Hill.