WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump considers his next Supreme Court pick, some Republicans in Congress want him to consider pulling from their ranks on Capitol Hill.
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, suggests his conservative ally, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would be "the single best choice" Trump could make to fill the vacancy.
Republican Sen. Tim Scott is making a pitch for his best friend in Congress, Rep. Trey Gowdy, a fellow South Carolinian.
"I hope that the president will be open to that," Scott said on CNN.
If Trump were to pick a lawmaker, it wouldn't be the first time a member of Congress has made it to the Supreme Court. Congressional records show 17 members of the House and 15 senators have served there.
But for now, only one lawmaker — Lee — is on the list of 25 names Trump is working from to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Cruz says unlike other Republican nominees who have proved to be liberal "train wrecks," he's confident Lee — among his favorite colleagues in the Senate — "would be faithful to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." Lee is also staunchly opposed to abortion.
But even though Lee is championed by conservatives as a strict constitutionalist, he could face obstacles to winning the president's favor. Chief among them is that he never backed Trump for president during the 2016 campaign.
There have been no indications from the White House that Lee is among the handful of top names receiving serious consideration. The same goes for his brother, Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee, who was also on Trump's initial list of possible court nominees.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump met with four prospective nominees for the court for 45 minutes each on Monday and will continue meetings through the rest of the week. The White House did not provide their names.
The president said the candidates he met with are "outstanding people and they are really incredible people in so many different ways, academically and in every other way."
Sen. Lee's office would not say if he was among the candidates who met with the president.
Lee confirmed Friday that he had talked to the White House about a replacement for Kennedy, but wouldn't say whether his name is among the potential front-runners.
The discussions were private and came as part of his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees judicial nominations, he said. "We talk about all judicial vacancies, and we talk about this one," he said following a speech at the Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City.
Nevertheless, Lee, who started watching court proceedings on TV as a 10-year old and went on to clerk for Justice Samuel A. Alito, has made clear he wouldn't dismiss an overture to join the court.
"If somebody asked me if I would consider that, I would not say no," the senator said.
Aboard Air Force One last week, Trump called Lee "an outstanding talent."
"I actually saw him on television last night where he said he'd love the job. Usually they don't say that," he said.
Lee has been critical of the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, which he has said invented abortion rights and inserted a poisonous idea into American law.
But he declined to say Friday whether the 1973 decision ought to be overturned, instead referring to a judicial doctrine asserting prior court rulings should usually be treated as precedent.
The doctrine is one "the court has honored and has honored not without good reason because of a desire to not have laws change from one day to another," he said. "But that doesn't mean that a decision can't be overruled."
Trump said Friday he wouldn't ask candidates about their position on Roe v. Wade.
Trump plans to announce his nominee on July 9. The quick timetable could help Senate Republicans confirm a justice before the court's term begins in October.
While Sen. Lee has been floated as a nominee for some time, the same cannot be said for Gowdy, who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Scott, in making the case for Gowdy, said the former prosecutor is so fair that he has angered both Democrats and Republicans.
"A guy who will call balls and strikes and not choose a side, even when he's an elected member at this time in our nation's history, that's hard to find," Scott said.
Scott and Gowdy are close friends who have dinner together several nights a week. They also wrote a book about their friendship, "Unified," that was released earlier this year.
Gowdy led the congressional investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of the Benghazi attack in Libya and more recently disputed himself from Trump's characterization of the Russia probe into election interference as "spygate."32 comments on this story
Fellow lawmakers are rooting for their Capitol Hill colleagues. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told reporters last week he was personally hoping Trump chooses Lee. "He'd be great," Rubio said.
The Utah senator also praised his brother, saying he would make an excellent Supreme Court justice.
"He is as bright and capable a lawyer and as sharp a legal mind as anyone I've ever worked with," Mike Lee said Friday. "If he were chosen, it would be to the great benefit of the country."