Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., stops to speak with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy luncheon, May 12, 2015. 
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

Jeff Flake’s endorsement clears the way for Kavanaugh to advance

Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination held out at least some hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee, after having heard yesterday’s testimony, might slow the confirmation process down and seek additional information.

This morning, those hopes were dashed.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday morning delay their vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh until 1:30 p.m. ET.

Minutes before the committee met, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. – who had been considered a potential Kavanaugh swing vote – said that he would vote in favor of the nomination.

Flake’s announcement doesn’t guarantee Kavanaugh’s final confirmation – there are still a handful of other undecided senators – but the Arizonan was the only on-the-fence member of the Judiciary panel. Barring a dramatic change of heart from a different Republican supporter of the judge, Kavanaugh will clear the committee this afternoon.

As the panel convened this morning, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) made a motion that the committee subpoena Mark Judge as a possible witness who could shed light on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual-assault allegation. The motion was defeated along party lines, with Flake voting with his party.

The inherent conflict in the GOP’s position should be seen as untenable. Republicans, including Flake, have said they’re prepared to support Kavanaugh in large part because they have insufficient evidence in support of Ford’s allegation. Those same Republicans then take steps to voluntarily leave themselves in the dark, not only finding no need for an FBI examination, but rejecting efforts to hear directly from relevant witnesses.

As for Flake, whose Senate career is nearly complete, the Arizona Republican periodically delivers eloquent speeches, criticizing his party’s president whom he does not respect, and expressing seemingly sincere questions about the direction of his party.

But once again, after the speeches end, and it’s time to cast meaningful votes, Flake’s pattern of sticking with his partisan brethren is what matters.