Pence Breaks Tie After Flake Refuses To Confirm Judicial Pick


Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Tuesday, confirming Jonathan Kobes as a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pence’s move came after Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake joined with Democrats to oppose Kobes’ nomination, The Hill reported.

The retiring lawmaker announced last month that he would not support any nominees going forward until his bill shielding special counsel Robert Mueller from being removed by President Donald Trump or the attorney general received a full Senate vote.

In light of Flake’s refusal to support Trump’s nominees, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced the cancellation of a meeting scheduled for the last week of November during which the senators were slated to consider six nominees to the federal circuit courts and 15 federal district courts around the country.

However, more than 30 nominees have already passed out of committee with Flake’s support and can be confirmed by the full Senate without him. But confirmation will require Pence to break the tie, assuming all remaining GOP senators vote to confirm and all Democratic senators vote against confirmation.

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Flake joined with Democrats late last month to filibuster judicial nominee Thomas Farr to serve on the federal bench for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Pence broke the 50-50 tie in the procedural vote, allowing the nominee to be eligible for a full Senate vote.

Washington Post Capitol Hill correspondent Seung Min Kim tweeted last week that Flake’s “judges blockade continues” after Grassley postponed committee votes on a number of judicial nominees.

Flake responded to the tweet, “The Senate needs to protect the Special Counsel.”

Though the American Bar Association has rated the vast majority of President Donald Trump’s nominee’s “well qualified,” the organization deemed Kobes “not qualified”

“Mr. Kobes is a very accomplished, competent, and capable person, but his career path has not resulted in sufficient evidence of a developed ability to do the written work of a United States Circuit Court Judge,” the association said, according to CBS News.

In a statement released in October, Grassley dismissed the ABA rating saying, “a Republican nominee to the Eighth Circuit can’t expect a fair shake.”

He claimed the ABA evaluator tasked with reviewing Kobes, Cynthia Nance, politicized the process and opposed the nominee, at least in part, because he was involved in abortion litigation in support of the pro-life position.

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“This particular evaluator has a long history of liberal activism,” Grassley said. “So it’s no surprise that the ABA’s two ‘not qualified’ recommendations for circuit-court nominees came for nominees she evaluated.”

Nance also submitted a letter to the committee in opposition to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and wrote a letter to the Obama administration opposing legal protections for religious groups like Little Sisters of the Poor. Additionally, she retweeted posts mocking the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s originalist interpretation of the Constitution, according to Grassley.

Grassley said Kobes, 44, received strong support from South Dakota’s legal community. He has served as a judicial clerk at the 8th Circuit, a federal prosecutor, and in private practice.

The Harvard Law School graduate came highly recommended from the state’s two senators, John Thune and Mike Rounds, as well as South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Kobes is the 30th Trump circuit court judge to be confirmed by the Senate, adding to the record number successfully appointed during the president’s first two years in office.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith