Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said Thursday he will vote his conscience on President Trump's judicial nominees even if it means he gets put on "double secret probation."
"I think we’re all going to vote our conscience, I know I am," Kennedy said during Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. "If that gets me put on double secret probation, so be it."
Kennedy on Thursday voted to advance three federal appeals court nominees, who survived the committee vote and are pending before the full Senate.
After voting against one federal appeals court nominee in a full Senate vote, publicly opposing another federal judicial nominee, and slowing Kyle Duncan's nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans last month, Kennedy reversed course.
Kennedy announced his decision to support Duncan's nomination as pressure mounted from influential conservatives, such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. The Family Research Council is a prominent, socially conservative lobbying group.
On Thursday, Kennedy gave examples of the kinds of pressure he could face that would not cause him to change his vote on Trump's judicial nominees.
"If [voting my conscience] means somebody comes to my office and says if you don’t vote in a particular way — hypothetically, of course — if somebody from the private sector comes to my office and says if you don’t vote in a particular way, then you’ll never raise another campaign dollar in this town again; hypothetically if that happens to me, my response is going to be you need to call somebody who cares what you think," Kennedy said. "And I think that’s going to be the response of everybody on this committee."
Kennedy also told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley: "I’m going to start reviewing the FBI background checks on all of our nominees particularly for the courts of appeal, and I thank you and your staff for making that information available to me."
Kennedy did not explain why he made that comment.