Earlier this week, Jeff Flake vowed to do the unthinkable: Instead of merely chastising the president for undermining core democratic principles, the Arizona senator intended to actually use the formal powers of his office to limit Donald Trump’s power.
“I think myself and a number of senators, at least a few of us, will stand up and say, ‘Let’s not move any more judges until we get a vote, for example, on tariffs,’” Flake told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
Flake didn’t feel compelled to use his formal authorities to sanction praise for white nationalists, the systematic abuse of immigrant children, or the president’s constant attacks on the free press and federal law enforcement. But Trump’s decision to raise taxes on steel imports was a bridge too far. If combating that unspeakable evil — by securing a vote on legislation to reassert congressional authority over tariffs — required blocking the president’s judicial appointments, so be it.
But then Anthony Kennedy retired. And Flake decided that obstructing a Supreme Court nomination would give him too much leverage over the president.
“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,” Flake told the Arizona Republic newspaper. “I have all the leverage I need. I certainly wasn’t anticipating a Supreme Court vacancy, but it’s unaffected.”
Say what you want about the Arizona senator, the man is aptly named.