Flake: Keep Scalia's seat vacant until next year
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP McSally to back Trump on emergency declaration MORE (R-Ariz.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, is backing a strategy to keep Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's seat vacant until next year.

"One would have to go back more than a century to find a scenario where a president’s nominee for the Supreme Court was confirmed by the opposition party in the Senate when the vacancy occurred during an election year," the Arizona Republican said in a statement. 
 
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Flake is one of the final Republican members of the Judiciary Committee to weigh in on what to do about the vacancy. 
 
He added Monday that he was not "about to break new ground in the Senate, particularly when any nominee could so drastically shift the balance of the court.”
 
While Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed during 1988 — an election year — Republicans suggest his case is different because he was nominated in 1987. They also point to statements from top Democrats under President George W. Bush suggesting the Senate should not confirm additional Supreme Court nominees during his second term.
 
Republicans have largely rallied around Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' McConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism MORE's push to let the next president select Scalia's successor, but there have been signs of division among GOP senators and among the Judiciary Committee. 
 
Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ill.), who is not a member of the committee, on Monday backed giving Obama's nominee a hearing a vote.
 
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of the committee, warned that Republicans risked being seen as "obstructionist" if they pledge to block any Supreme Court nominee without knowing who the president will nominate. 
 
Democrats would need support from Republican lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee to get a committee vote for anyone Obama nominates and to get the nomination to the floor of the Senate.
 
Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySeniors win big with Trump rebate rule  Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll MORE (R-Iowa) has suggested the seat should remain vacant, but told reporters during a conference call last week he hasn't made a decision about a potential hearing.