SALT LAKE CITY — A Senate confirmation committee cleared the way Tuesday for BYU law professor Thomas Lee to become the next member of the Utah Supreme Court.

The committee voted unanimously to move Lee's name to the entire Senate for confirmation after more than two hours of testimony during which Lee, 45, painted himself as committed public servant and a staunch opponent of judicial activism.

"I don't think there is room for judges to legislate from the bench," Lee said. "That's not why we nominate judges."

Senators said they were impressed with Lee's resume, which includes clerkships for 4th District Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in addition to a litigation career that has earned him a national reputation as a top appellate lawyer.

The committee peppered Lee with questions about state's rights, same-sex marriage and his interpretation of the Constitution.

Lee, who touted his work with the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative, said he did not believe the Constitution was "a living, breathing document."

When asked if a Utah law could provide protections for same-sex couples, Lee sidestepped the question but said he had a firm commitment to the "history and tradition" of the Constitution.

"That history and tradition undoubtedly encompasses the important and sacrosanct institution of marriage," he said.

The Senate will vote on Lee's confirmation June 23.

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