Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said Wednesday he doesn’t think it’s likely Judge Merrick Garland will get a hearing in the Senate ahead of the November election, even though the Supreme Court already announced its major decisions this month.
But Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is open to holding a vote for Garland if it starts to get close to November and Donald Trump still looks like he won’t win the presidency.
“Obviously if we lose the election and lose the White House, then we ought to move quickly to confirm [Garland],” the Republican senator told Business Insider. “And I think if it becomes apparent that we aren’t going to win the White House — if we know in October that it’s not good — then we’ve got to move forward at that point.”
“But I don’t think my view is shared by too many of my colleagues,” he continued. “Or enough of my colleagues to do it.”
The Arizona senator met with Garland in April, breaking with GOP Senate leadership, which has called for no meetings with Garland — President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia after his February death. Obama nominated Garland to the seat in March.
Senate leadership has insisted that no hearing or vote will be held on Garland ahead of the November election. But some Republicans are fearful that, should Clinton win in the fall, Obama could pull the nomination and allow Clinton to fill the void with someone considerably more to the left.
In an attempt to sway conservatives who were on the fence about him as the GOP standard-bearer, Trump released a list of conservative justices he would appoint to fill Supreme Court vacancies. The late-May list was roundly applauded by the GOP.
Trump’s poll numbers have taken a plunge in recent weeks as presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has opened up her widest lead over him in the RealClearPolitics average of several polls since early May.
Flake, who has been increasingly critical of Trump in recent months, has not endorsed the Manhattan billionaire. He’s said it’s “quite possible” the real estate magnate loses in Flake’s home state of Arizona — a Republican stronghold.
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