Politics & Policy

Tim Scott: Trey Gowdy for the Supreme Court

South Carolina’s young lawmakers form vital Senate/House bond.

Trey Gowdy is a busy guy, and an up-and-coming senator says he should be on the Supreme Court. ​

Over the past year or so, Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican congressman, has drawn substantial national attention, winning adulation from Tea Party activists who like his tough questioning in committee hearings. His growing prominence and indisputably Southern demeanor have made him one of the standouts from the 2010 House class.

He’s in good company. Gowdy entered the House in the 2010 Tea Party wave along with three other freshman South Carolina Republicans: Tim Scott, Jeff Duncan, and Mick Mulvaney. The four were nicknamed “the Four Horsemen” and grew close.

In 2013, Palmetto State governor Nikki Haley appointed Scott, with whom Gowdy had developed a close friendship, to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint. Scott tells NRO that Gowdy is his best friend in Washington, D.C. And Gowdy says that the two usually get dinner together — the Capitol Hill Club or Clyde’s — once or twice a week when Congress is in session. Scott tells National Review the two often manage to avoid talking politics.  

“We’ll talk personalities, we’ll talk people, we’ll talk politics of course,” Scott says. “We’ll also talk business and our faith, families, my dating life, whatever comes up.”

“We need to meet with each other to make it through the week,” the senator adds.

Scott says neither man drinks, and both are devoted Christians. They also both like playing basketball; Scott says Gowdy is a good shot but not very fast. And their support for each other goes deeper than typical Washington alliances. Scott says that Gowdy has a recurring fundraiser with 30 of his top contributors that features basketball and lobster. Once, he gave the event’s proceeds to Scott. And, Scott adds, Gowdy will call his contributors to fundraise for the senator.

“Most people who love you will give you their list,” Scott says. “Only Trey will actually call his list for me.”

And now, Scott is one of Gowdy’s biggest boosters.

“I think he would tell you that the best job he’s ever had is being a prosecutor,” Scott says. “I think I could change that if we were able to make him a federal judge. That would be the best job he’s ever had. And after he becomes a federal judge, I assume he’ll be a Supreme Court justice before he’s 65 or so.”

Gowdy is understandably coy about SCOTUS. When I asked him about Scott’s suggestion, he laughed.

“He has one of the best senses of humor I have ever been around; didn’t you find that, too?” Gowdy says. “I like the law more than I do politics. But the last time the word ‘judge’ was mentioned to me was at Costco and it was someone who was having a church chili contest and they wanted to know, would I come judge it.”

But his unquestioned conservative bona fides and appetite for making tough queries should only make him more of a darling to the movement, regardless of his own ambitions. For now, he’s focused on a nigh-endless stream of hearings about the host of scandals that have dogged the Obama administration for the past year. Gowdy is also working on legislation that takes direct aim at the White House (and, potentially, future White Houses of either party): The ENFORCE the Law Act (it stands for Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law) aims to give Congress standing to sue the executive branch for choosing not to enforce legislation. Gowdy, along with Representatives Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), introduced the legislation on March 4.

I ask if there is a Senate version of the legislation and Gowdy says, “Yeah, I think it’s entitled ‘​Snowball’s Chance in Purgatory’​;​ I think that’s what they titled theirs.”

Then he gets serious: “I’m not naive enough to think that Reid’s going to let them vote on that.”

But whether he ends up on the Supreme Court or not, his high comfort level with blasting Democrats should keep him in the public eye, as he keeps plugging away in hearing after hearing.

— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.


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