- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2016

Sen. Jeff Flake said it is time for Congress to move forward as if Hillary Clinton is president-elect and plan to take up President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court during the lame-duck session of Congress.

“I said if we were in a position like we were in in ‘96 and we pretty much knew the outcome, that we ought to move forward. But I think we passed that awhile ago,” Mr. Flake, a Republican, told Politico this week. “If Hillary Clinton is president-elect then we should move forward with hearings in the lame duck. That’s what I’m encouraging my colleagues to do.”

The Arizona Republican is among the GOP lawmakers that have been concerned that Mrs. Clinton could try to nominate a justice with a more liberal judicial record than Judge Garland, who Mr. Obama nominated to fill the vacancy created by death of conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia.

Mr. Flake also has refused to endorse GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is now trailing in national and most battleground states polls.

“I’m saying that I’m not one to deny polls, particularly when they are overwhelming,” Mr. Flake told Politico.

Republicans have so far refused to move on Mr. Obama’s Supreme Court pick, with top leaders arguing the decision should be made by the next president.

“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said this year on the Senate floor. “The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

Judge Garland has served on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997 and as chief judge since 2013.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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