Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Trump picks conservative Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Melinda Barton | 10 July, 2018, 05:45

President Donald Trump is going down to the wire as he makes his choice on a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, but he says with his final four options "you can't go wrong".

Kavanaugh, 53, is a longtime fixture of the Republican establishment.

News crews set up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court early Monday morning in Washington. He had previously worked with independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation of President Bill Clinton, and was involved in the Florida presidential vote recount in 2000.

He's also married to Bush's personal secretary, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, and has two daughters. Like Trump's first nominee past year, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh would be a young addition who could help remake the court for decades to come with rulings that could restrict abortion, expand gun rights and roll back key parts of Obamacare.

The 53-year-old Kavanaugh, who clerked for Kennedy and who now sits on the US court of appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court, emphasized in his remarks accepting the nomination the importance of judicial independence.

The person Trump will nominate at 9 in line to create a clear 5-to-4 conservative majority on the nation's highest court.

Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 majority, making any efforts by Democrats to thwart Trump's nominee an uphill battle.

Casey is one of the handful of so-called "Red State" Democratic senators who are running for reelection in a state carried by the president in the 2016 election, and who are seen as especially vulnerable this election cycle as a result.

Outside adviser Leonard Leo, now on leave from the Federalist Society, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that this kind of jockeying is standard, noting that "every potential nominee before announcement gets concerns expressed about them by people who might ultimately support them".

A confirmation for Judge Kavanaugh would mean "women's reproductive rights would be in the hands of five men on the Supreme Court", he added. Of the court's liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Stephen Breyer turns 80 next month, so Trump may well get another opportunity to cement conservative dominance of the court for years to come.

Some social conservative groups have warned that Kavanaugh is insufficiently conservative, citing decisions on Obamacare and abortion where they have felt that he did not go far enough in his opinions. At the top of that list is abortion. CBS also reports he is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment. Kennedy provided a decisive vote in 2015 on an important fair housing case.

While the president has been pondering his pick, aides have been preparing for a tough confirmation fight. The White House said Monday that former Arizona Sen.

With Senator John McCain battling cancer in his home state of Arizona, Republicans can now only muster 50 votes.

Trump spoke to reporters Sunday afternoon before returning to Washington from a weekend at his private golf club in New Jersey, where he deliberated his decision amid furious lobbying and frenzied speculation. The White House hopes Kyl's close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for confirmation. Susan Collins, who declined the invitation. Democrats who were invited but declined included Sens.

Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of IN were invited for the announcement. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told NPR's Morning Edition.

Some Democrats up for re-election in November have already said they are not voting for Trump's pick, including Sen. Additionally, the nominee has not publicly said whether he'd favor overturning Roe v. Wade. The two have supported access to abortion services.

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