Friday, 16 November, 2018

Republicans Optimistic Senate Will Confirm Any of Trump's Supreme Court Picks

Leah Millis  Reuters Leah Millis Reuters
Deanna Wagner | 10 July, 2018, 07:40

The appointee would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who announced last month that he will retire this summer.

In his decade-plus tenure on the D.C. Circuit, the most influential court below the Supreme Court, he has amassed a massive paper trail that will be picked apart by his opponents.

Mr Trump added: "He is a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style, universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time". Some conservative activists have questioned whether he would rule sufficiently aggressively as a justice.

The front-runners are conservative federal circuit court judges Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman, Brett Kavanaugh, and Raymond Kethledge, according to people who are assisting the president with the nomination process or are familiar with the process.

Judge Kavanaugh, 53, referenced his Catholic faith and evinced an "originalist" view of the law - holding that the Constitution must be interpreted conservatively.

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

"Obstructing confirmation will only backfire on vulnerable red-state Democrats and show voters that all their talk of bipartisanship is nothing but hot air", Katie Martin, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which backs Republican Senate candidates, told Reuters.

He previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Kavanaugh in 2009 changed his tune on the Starr probe, arguing that presidents should be free from civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office.

The nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was the first in a series of judicial appointments by President Trump fulfilling the promise of candidate Trump.

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Kavanaugh once served as a Supreme Court clerk under Kennedy. Though Kennedy is a conservative, he was often a swing vote on big decisions, such as same-sex marriage, abortion and affirmative action. The president's party holds 51 of 100 Senate seats, so liberal groups will apply pressure on those same Democrats to hold firm against Kavanaugh because the loss of only a Republican vote or two could sink the nomination.

Jones was among the Democratic lawmakers invited to the announcement at the White House but did not attend.

Trump past year appointed Gorsuch, who has already become one of the most conservative justices, after Senate Republicans in 2016 refused to consider Democratic former president Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Republicans effectively control 50 Senate seats because Sen.

Republicans are eager for conservatives to gain a firm majority on the court.

More recently, he joined a decision overturning a district court's move requiring the Trump administration to let an undocumented teen in detention seek an abortion.

"This list is the bidding of corporate special interests hell-bent on handing health care over to insurance companies, crushing unions that represent working men and women, and promoting policies that will leave the middle-class further behind", said Casey.

Signaling the fight ahead on abortion rights, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement: "There's no way to sugarcoat it: With this nomination, the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion in this country is on the line".

With the Senate's Republican leadership saying it aims to complete the confirmation process before November's midterm elections, Democrats were nearing panic mode.