Flake Holds Up Judicial Nominee, Mum on Why

WASHINGTON (CN) – Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., last week delayed a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the 11th CircuitĀ  for reasons “unrelated to the nominee’s merits,” according to a committee source.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced in the middle of a committee meeting last week that the panel would not be voting as planned on the nomination of Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant, who is nominated to a seat on the 11th Circuit.

Grassley did not give a reason for the delay during the hearing, and afterwards only offered that he believed the committee pushed back consideration of Grant’s nomination for a week “because we didn’t have the votes.”

A committee source later explained Flake indicated just before the vote that he planned to oppose Grant’s nomination, “apparently for reasons unrelated to the nominee’s merits.”

When asked by Roll Call about his opposition to the nominee on Tuesday, Flake said “it’s just something I’m working out.”

The Judiciary Committee consists of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats and most votes on federal appeals court nominees split along party lines. At the same meeting, Flake voted to approve two nominees to federal courts in Oklahoma and Florida who each cleared the committee by a single vote.

Representatives for Flake have not returned requests for comment on why he opposed Grant’s nomination at the meeting last week.

Grant is scheduled for another vote before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, alongside six other judicial nominees who are appearing before the panel for the first time. The committee typically does not vote on nominees when their names first come before the committee.

The Republican-controlled Senate has set a record clip of confirming judges to the federal appellate courts during the Trump administration, having placed 21 new judges on federal circuit courts across the country since the start of 2017.

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