Senator Jeff Flake has decided that he won’t block Trump’s Supreme Court pick from leaving the Senate.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake said Wednesday he would not try to strong-arm the Trump administration on tariffs — or other issues — by withholding his support from a Supreme Court nominee.
The outgoing Arizona Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he will evaluate the person nominated to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy separately. Flake’s apparent cooperation would seemingly leave Senate Democrats still searching for at least one GOP ally to block a nomination to the high court sometime later this year.
Flake has recently stalled at least some federal appeals court nominations by withholding his support on the Judiciary Committee in an effort to pressure the Senate to vote on President Donald Trump’s tariff changes, which Flake opposes.
“There are lots of folks out there who assume because I’ve not been in line with lots of the president’s policies, and certainly haven’t condoned his behavior, that I should oppose everything, every one of the president’s nominees or whatever. I’ve never taken that position,” Flake said in an interview.
“My goal here is not to block judges. My goal is to get a vote on tariffs, and I have all the leverage I need with circuit court nominees,” he said. The Supreme Court “is unaffected. I have all the leverage I need. I certainly wasn’t anticipating a Supreme Court vacancy, but it’s unaffected.”
Flake also said his standards for judicial nominations isn’t changing, either.
“This is important in its own right. I want someone who will interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench; it’s what I’ve always said in terms of how I would view any nominee,” Flake said. “It’s what I did with (Supreme Court Justice Neil) Gorsuch and I thought he passed the test. It’s what I’ll do with this one.”
This is huge for President Trump. Flake has been a Never-Trumper since he was elected and a no vote from him would likely force a Democrat to have to vote yes to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice.