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Facts Are Facts

Guv offers thoughts on Utah’s Lee brothers potentially filling Supreme Court vacancy.


  • Enrique Limón/FILE

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert talked to reporters Thursday morning about Sen. Mike Lee and his brother, Associate Chief Justice Thomas Lee, being on the president’s list of 25 people who could replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court once he retires at the end of July.


“Tom Lee, who I think is a brilliant, brilliant intellect, understands the rules of law, and doesn’t legislate from the bench,” said Herbert, who appointed Lee to the state’s highest court in 2010. “And the same thing would be true for Mike Lee.”

“It’s nice to have two of our constitutional scholars that are being considered to the Supreme Court, and we wish them well,” Herbert said at his monthly press conference.

Herbert also lamented the politicization of federal judges. “Unfortunately in the federal bench, it’s now a matter of, ‘Is it a liberal court? Is it a conservative court? Is he conservative or liberal?’ It should not matter. The law is the law, the facts are the facts, then you meld those two together and you make a decision, whether you like it or not,” he said.

Herbert spent the half-hour question-and-answer session talking about the inland port, his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with business owners and the president and vice president, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision on online sales tax. Asked if a potential trade war makes him nervous about the inland port, the Republican governor professed his love for the market, saying that he believes it “will always seem to find a way.”

The governor also encouraged Utahns to be mindful of dry conditions and careful with fireworks during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

Herbert circled back to the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy toward the end of the press conference, after he was asked if he worried about the balance of the court shifting too far to the right.

“I’m always concerned about having appropriate people on the Supreme Court,” Herbert said. “To me, if this was being done right and if the Congress and the Senate, in particular, handled this right, it would not matter whether the Supreme Court justice was a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, liberal or conservative. They would address the issues as the founding fathers believed they should.”

Herbert explained his views on judges and where they fall in the legislative landscape. “If we’re going to change the law, that should be the will of the people through their legislative process, not the courts,” he said.

“What we ought to be asking, the question is, ‘When an issue comes before you, what is the process you’re going to go through to make the decision?’” Herbert finalized.