Kavanaugh faces an uphill confirmation fight in the Senate

10 July, 2018, 08:46 | Author: Carlos George
  • Mandel Ngan  AFP  Getty Images

In what is likely to be one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency, Donald Trump has selected Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Leonard Leo, who is advising Trump on his pick to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, said two names on the president's shortlist - Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman - had less established conservative records, making it harder to line up support should they be selected.

Kavanaugh has a deep history in conservative politics, having served as a senior White House official under Republican former US President George W. Bush before Bush picked nominated him to the appeals court in 2003.

WASHINGTON ― Within minutes of President Donald Trump announcing Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee, a conservative judicial advocacy group unveiled a $1.4 million ad buy aimed at pressuring four vulnerable Democrats to support him. He is a fine husband, father, and friend-and a man of the highest integrity.

The pick is Trump's second to the nation's highest court, after he selected Justice Neil Gorsuch a year ago to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.

"Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law", Trump said.

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For all the parsing of differences between the finalists on the president's shortlist in recent days - Judge Amy Coney Barrett was praised by conservative Christian groups who believed she held the deepest anti-abortion beliefs, Judge Thomas Hardiman was criticized by those same groups who anxious he might slide to the left as Justices Souter, Kennedy and Blackmun did before him, Kavanaugh raised concerns from some because his anti-abortion opinions were not strong enough - all of those under consideration effectively posed a similar threat to abortion access in the United States. During his presidential campaign, Trump named several potential Supreme Court nominees created to fit the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. Dozens of additional nominations are pending - a list that will soon include Trump's second nominee for the highest court in the land.

Republicans may have a narrower margin for error than they did when the Senate confirmed Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, by a vote of 54-45 in April 2017. Given the Republican's slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, the conservative seemingly already has the numbers to take Kennedy's seat. He also worked on independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh would be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than Kennedy was. "If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law", Kavanaugh said. Recent presidents have delighted in dramatically revealing the people they have chosen to sit on the Supreme Court.

Still, Trump has recounted how close he came to selecting Hardiman, who was recommended by the president's sister and sometime confidante, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry.

He will be accompanied by former Sen.

Known as a devout Catholic, Kavanaugh's position on one of America's most politically charged issues - abortion - has raised concern on both sides.

A Maryland native whose mother was a public school teacher who went on to serve as a state judge in Maryland, Kavanaugh got his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University. He said Sunday that he hoped to have made a decision by noon Monday. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of IN and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Kavanaugh has an extensive paper trail that could potentially enable Democrats to stretch the confirmation beyond the 2018 midterm election. John McCain's expected no-vote as he battles brain cancer. Trump's nominee can win confirmation with only Republican votes, but attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights.

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