Updated 4:13 p.m.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against a federal judicial nominee today that he actually supports. Although that sounds like a mistake, Lee did this on purpose.
The reason: Lee got caught between a nominee and a hardened political stance during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill when it came to Robert Shelby, a non-controversial nominee for district judge in Lee’s home state of Utah.
Lee has voted against all of President Barack Obama’s nominees as a response to Obama’s controversial recess appointments to consumer and labor boards in January. And he didn’t back down today.
As Lee explained: “I want to express my unequivocal support for the president’s nomination of Robert Shelby….He’ll be an outstanding judge and I do look forward to his confirmation.”
“I will nevertheless ask to be recorded as a 'no' on his nomination,” Lee said. “The president may not ignore the constitution and simply decide for himself when the Senate is or is not in session for purposes of the recess appointments clause.”
Senate Republicans have announced they will file an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
Shelby was approved by a voice vote (with Lee recorded as a 'no') and will now be reported to the Senate floor for a full vote at a later date. The committee also moved Michael Shea for U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut on a vote of 15-3, and Gonzalo P. Curiel for U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of California on a voice vote (with Lee recorded as a 'no').
Also on Thursday, the full Senate confirmed two judges to federal district courts in Texas: Gregg Costa for the Southern District of Texas by a vote of 97-2; and David Guaderrama for the Western District of Texas, by voice vote.