Politics

Sen. Rand Paul is throwing his support behind President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, after initially saying he wasn’t sure he would vote to confirm the nominee.

With a slim Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, a no-vote from Paul could have derailed the confirmation of Kavanaugh, who Trump has nominated to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Last week Paul said he was “very worried” about Kavanaugh’s record ruling in favor of broad government power to collect data about U.S. citizens without a warrant.

But on Monday, Paul said that he now supports Kavanaugh’s confirmation after meeting with him and reviewing his record.

“My conversation with Judge Kavanaugh reinforces my belief that he will evaluate cases before the Supreme Court from a textual and originalist point of view. I believe he will carefully adhere to the Constitution and will take his job to protect individual liberty seriously,” Paul said in a series of Tweets.

“On issues such as property rights and reining in the administrative state, Judge Kavanaugh has a strong record and showed a deep commitment during our meeting.”

With Arizona Sen. John McCain absent from the Senate due to brain cancer, Republicans won’t be able to get the 51 votes necessary to confirm Kavanaugh if one of their members and all Democrats vote against the nominee.

Republicans’ slim majority has allowed Paul to seize the national spotlight during critical moments in recent years, becoming a key player when he diverges from Republican colleagues on issues like how to repeal the Affordable Care Act, government spending and foreign policy.

Paul has backed off threats to derail Trump’s priorities before. Earlier this year he promised to do “whatever it takes” to prevent the confirmation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but in the end voted in favor of him.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.