President Donald Trump on Monday announced Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, picking a conservative federal appeals court judge who survived a previous tough Senate confirmation battle and helped investigate Democratic former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Judge Brett Kavanaugh his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House, Monday, July 9, 2018, in Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who once held a court seat open for almost a year before the 2016 election to keep former President Barack Obama from filling it, lambasted Democrats for announcing their opposition before Trump had decided on a nominee.
The privilege of naming justices to the U.S. Supreme Court - judges whose decisions could affect the lives of Americans for decades - is one of the most consequential choices a president can make. He's a ideal 21 for 21 in confirming the federal appeals-court nominees of President Trump, with more to come this year. Kavanaugh had been a law clerk for Kennedy.
Kavanaugh is a longtime fixture of the Republican legal establishment.
The source told Reuters that Amy Coney Barrett of IN, a Trump-appointed judge on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was still IN contention but that the Republican president had been asking more questions about the other two, who have more extensive judicial records.
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Justice Kennedy sometimes sided with the court's liberal justices on divisive social issues. He works for the Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. It's a similar playbook to one the group followed previous year with Judge Neil Gorsuch. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would replace long-serving conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on June 27 at age 81.
Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of ME, are pro-abortion and have said they would vote against a candidate who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump plans to reveal his choice Monday night from the White House. Without Republican defections, however, Senate rules leave Democrats with scant options to block confirmation of Trump's nominee.
But Schumer said on the Senate floor that the nominee's appreciation of precedent as settled law would not be sufficient, and that they should be questioned about Roe specifically.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while not arguing against Kavanaugh on the merits, has spoken to the White House about the volume of material from the judge's career that would need to be pored through, potentially bogging down the confirmation, according to people familiar with the process. Susan Collins, who declined the invitation.
The nominee is expected to meet in coming days with senators at their offices, going door-to-door in get-to-know-you sessions ahead of confirmation hearings.
Kavanaugh, 53, is said to be supported by White House Counsel Don McGahn, who's supervising the search. The two have supported access to abortion services. He expressed renewed interest in Hardiman - the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. He called it the "fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp".