Politics

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says that the Senate shouldn’t confirm an appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama because it amounts to a “conflict of interest.”

The president has said he’ll nominate someone to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last week.

This spring, the Supreme Court will take up a case concerning the legality of Obama’s executive orders that granted legal status to about 5 million people who entered the U.S. without documentation as children.

Paul, a Republican from Bowling Green, is crisscrossing Kentucky to drum up support for his reelection bid. On Friday, he stopped at Tonya’s Hometown Buffet in Lawrenceburg to speak to a crowd of about 50 supporters.

Citing the recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that halted Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Paul said that with the absence of Scalia, a sympathetic appointee would tip the scales in favor of the president’s immigration policies.

“It’s not that I’m implying he doesn’t have the power. Sure, he has the power to nominate somebody,” Paul said on Friday.

“But it sure doesn’t look very fair if he’s going to be picking the person that’s going to decide whether it’s constitutional or not.”

The tour across the state is Paul’s first public homecoming since he disbanded his presidential campaign after months of dwindling poll results and a disappointing performance at the Iowa Republican caucuses.

Last month, he said he was suspending his campaign to focus on his Senate reelection bid.

Paul has two primary challengers: Stephen Slaughter of Louisville and James Gould of Lexington. Assuming he wins, he’ll likely face Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat, in November.

Paul took no direct jabs at Gray during his Lawrenceburg visit, but he did accuse Lexington of not enforcing immigration laws and being a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

Gray has six primary challengers.

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