Trump nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on Supreme Court

President Trump announced Monday night that Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appellate court judge based in Washington, D.C., is his pick to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — a nominee who, if confirmed, will cement a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court.

Trump made the announcement from the East Room of the White House.

“Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” the president said. “Throughout legal circles he is considered a judge’s judge, a true thought leader among his peers. 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.”

Kavanaugh told Trump was “grateful” and “humbled by your confidence in me.”

“Throughout this process I have witnessed first hand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said. “Justice Kennedy devoted his career to securing liberty. I am deeply honored to fill his seat on the Supreme Court.”

He added: “My judicial philosophy is straightforward: A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written and a judge must interpret as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

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Brett Kavanaugh through the years
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Brett Kavanaugh through the years
US Judge Brett Kavanaugh looks on as the US President announces him as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC -- NOVEMBER 13: Brett Kavanaugh, aide to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, during a meeting in the Office of the Solicitor General on November 13, 1996 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
US Judge Brett Kavanaugh (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump after being nominated to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President George W. Bush (R) listens to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Judge Brett Kavanaugh speak, [moments after being sworn-in at a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House], in Washington June 1, 2006.
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces his Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
UNITED STATES - JUNE 01: Brett Kavanaugh speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 1, 2006 in Washington, D.C., after being sworn in to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. (Photo by Dennis Brack/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) announces US Judge Brett Kavanaugh (C) as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President George W. Bush (L) watches as Brett Kavanaugh (2nd L) is sworn in as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy (R) in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House in Washington June 1, 2006. Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley, holds the bible. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh attends a news conference with Senate GOP leadership in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh smiles next to U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh (L) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Frist said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh smiles next to U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: (L-R) U.S. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Frist said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: (L-R) U.S. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC. Frist said that Kavanaugh deserves a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 09: Brett Kavanaugh testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be U. S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 09: Brett M. Kavanaugh, who last appeared before the committee in late April 2004, is sworn in to testify during a second Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing. At right are former bosses Judge Walter K. Stapleton, of the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Wilmington, Del., and Judge Alex Kozinski, of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Pasadena, Calif., who introduced Kavanaugh to the committee. Kavanaugh, President Bush's staff secretary, is the president's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., held the second hearing because Committee Democrats wanted to ask Kavanaugh, formerly an associate White House counsel, more questions about his involvement in the administration's legal policies, particularly on the National Security Agency terrorist surveillance program and the treatment of detainees held by the U.S. military. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC -- NOVEMBER 19: Brett Kavanaugh, associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, sits behind Starr during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the possible impeachment of President Bill Clinton on November 19, 1998 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC -- NOVEMBER 13: Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, center, talks with Deputy Independent Counsel John Bates, left, and aide Brett Kavanaugh, right, and another colleague in the Office of the Solicitor General during the Whitewater Investigation on November 13, 1996 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh (off frame) and their two daughters stand by US President Donald Trump after he announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (R) speaks after US President Donald Trump announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh and their two daughters stand by US President Donald Trump after he announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Kavanaugh worked closely with independent counsel Ken Starr during Starr’s Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton. As documented in the latest episodeof the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Kavanaugh debunked the conspiracy theories that the Clintons were responsible for former aide Vince Foster’s death before becoming the primary author of the report laying out the case for Clinton’s impeachment. Kavanaugh was concerned with the more explicit sexual details of the report and attempted to redact them just before its publication.

One of the possible grounds for Clinton’s impeachment in Kavanaugh’s report was the fact Clinton lied to his aides and the American public via his press team. In a 2009 piece for the Minnesota Law Review, Kavanaugh said that he believed presidents should not be subject to civil lawsuits or criminal investigations in office because they were “time-consuming and distracting.”

After assisting in George W. Bush’s efforts in the 2000 Florida recount, Kavanaugh joined the White House, serving first as a counsel to the president and then as a staff secretary. Bush nominated Kavanaugh for a position on the D.C. Circuit in July 2003, but his confirmation took nearly three years, because Democrats contended he was too partisan for the federal bench. Kavanaugh was called an “unqualified judicial nominee” by the New York Times before his May 2006 confirmation on a 57-36 vote. In 2016, the conservative National Review wrote said that Kavanaugh’s opinions were “clear, consistent, thorough, and thoughtful” and had an “analytical clarity” that would make the late Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia proud.

SCOTUSBlog, a news site about the Supreme Court, has described Kavanaugh as “generally bringing a pragmatic approach” to his decisions but with a conservative judicial philosophy. In analyzing him as a possible replacement for either Kennedy or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the blog Empirical SCOTUS said Kavanaugh would most likely be to the right of either Kennedy or Ginsburg on the court, but not as far to the right as Justice Clarence Thomas.

In his time on the bench, Kavanaugh has declared the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional and ruled against Obama-era environmental regulations. Kavanaugh’s name being floated as a nominee has caused some infighting on the right, with one group stating that the judge was not anti-abortion enough in a case involving an immigrant girl requesting the procedure. Multiple conservative writers have defended Kavanaugh against this claim.

According to the Associated Press, Trump reached a decision earlier in the day.

Trump interviewed a total of seven candidates last week and on Monday narrowed his list of finalists to a pair of federal appeals court judges, Brett Kavanaugh and Thomas Hardiman, the New York Times reported Monday. According to the Associated Press, Trump reached a decision earlier in the day.

The president had been considering two other judges — Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge — before Hardiman emerged as a possible nominee on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday night after spending the weekend at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Trump said he had yet to settle on a nominee but was “getting very close.”

“They’re excellent,” the president said about all four of the possible final choices. “Every one. You can’t go wrong.”

But on Monday afternoon, both Barrett and Kethledge were at their homes on in Indiana and Michigan, hundreds of miles away from Trump’s primetime spectacle in Washington.

“I can’t confirm nor deny anything,” Barrett told reporters, “but you can see that I’m here.”

 

The looming battle

The announcement of Kennedy’s retirement last month sent shock waves across the nation, with Trump and his fellow Republicans poised to shift the court’s ideological balance to the right — and shape the country’s judicial future for generations to come.

Abortion has emerged as a key issue in the looming confirmation battle, as Republicans hold a one-vote majority (51-49) in the Senate and need at least 50 to confirm Trump’s pick.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who supports abortion rights, said last week that she would not support someone who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion.

“I believe very much that Roe v. Wade is settled law,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week.” “A candidate who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.”

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History of Roe v. Wade
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History of Roe v. Wade
(Original Caption) 4/6/1989-Denver, CO- Brandishing homemade signs, hundreds of pro-choice advocates attend a rally in Downtown Denver to show their support for a woman's right to a legal abortion. The rally was staged to coincide with arguments held in the U.S. Supreme Court that could overturn the landmark Roe V. Wade decision.
BURBANK, CA - JULY 4 : Attorney Gloria Allred and Norma McCorvey (R),'Jane Roe' plaintiff from Landmark court case Roe vs. Wade during Pro Choice Rally, July 4, 1989 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images)
Associate Justice Harry Blackmun of the US Supreme Court said that the abortion decision he wrote a year ago, 'will be regarded as one of the worst mistakes in the court's history or one of its greatest decisions, a turning point.' But he said it was 'a case the Court couldn't win, because the country is so evenly divided on the subject' and both sides feel so strongly about it. The usually reticent jurist made the remarks in an informal chat with newsmen at St. Paul Mechanic High School. The case he is speaking of is 1973 Roe vs.Wade, when he ruled for the Supreme Court that states may not ban abortions in the first six months of pregnancy.
(Original Caption) Washington: Norma McCorvey, 'Jane Roe' in Roe vs. Wade is the center of the media attention following arguments in a Missouri abortion case at the Supreme Court. McCorvey attended the session as a spectator.
A group of anti abortionists hold a 'March for Life' banner during a rally on the Supreme Court anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in Washington DC. (Photo by ?? Leif Skoogfors/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Pro-life demonstrators with signs imploring everyone to 'Pray and Fast for God to End Abortion.' The protesters hope are lobbying the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade and end women's right to abortion. (Photo by ANDREW HOLBROOKE/Corbis via Getty Images)
Portrait of Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe in famous law suit Roe v. Wade)) after she admitted she had not been gang raped when she sought an abortion in 1970. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
The largest pro-choice rally to ever assemble against any possible Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade decision. Women display a 'Keep Abortion Legal' sign in front of the Washington Monument. (Photo by ANDREW HOLBROOKE/Corbis via Getty Images)
399974 05: Pro-life activists Lori Gordon (R) and Tammie Miller (L) of Payne, OH take part in the annual 'March for Life' event January 22, 2002 in Washington, DC. Activists marched from the Washington Monument to the U. S. Supreme Court in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The Roe vs. Wade January 22, 1973 Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
399974 03: (L-R) Seminarians Jeremy W. Sell and Eddie Radler of Mount Saint Marys Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD sing prayers as they hold up the statue of the Virgin Mother during the annual 'March for Life' event January 22, 2002 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Activists marched from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Supreme Court in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The Roe vs. Wade January 22, 1973 Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DENVER,CO--Samuel Doran, 6, with the help of his father, Peter, (not seen, just hand) holds up a pro life sign at the 2003 March for Life rally at on the west steps of the Captiol saturday afternoon commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. THE DENVER POST/ ANDY CROSS (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
An anti-abortion activist hold a sign in front of the Supreme Court on January 22, 2003. Anti-abortion and pro-abortion activists marched in Washington for the March of Life as part of a day long rememberance of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that made abortion legal. (Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)
Sarah Phares, a nurse at an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas, holds up a flyer that was sent to her in the mail, demanding that she quit her job. Although afraid to reveal her identity, she is more committed than ever to working at the clinic, and receives a salary bonus whem anti-abortion activists picket her house. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: Pro-choice supporter and intern with the National Organization for Women, Meredith Harper, smiles as she ignores the pleadings of pro-life protesters that abortion is wrong in front of the US Supreme Court during the March for Life demonstration 22 January, 2004, in Washington, DC. US President George W. Bush praised anti-abortion marchers for their 'noble cause' as Democrats in Congress introduced a bill to block US government interference in reproductive rights. The annual march takes place every 22 January, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 22: Two women carry a sign during a pro-choice march January 22, 2004 in San Francisco. People all over the United States celebrated the 31st anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JULY 20: Pro-choice women protest U.S. President George W. Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court John G. Roberts Jr. in Union Square July 20, 2005 in New York City. Pro-choice activists are troubled that Roberts went on the record calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned when he served as a lawyer for the government. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 19: Bethany Kontur, an activist with the group Bound For Life, prays in front of the Supreme Court July 19, 2005 in Washington, DC. President Bush is expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee later this evening - an event that could have significant impact on the Roe vs. Wade decision and other legal cases. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 23: Members of the Silent No More organization join thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators during the March for Life to mark the 33rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade January 23, 2006 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The demonstrators marched up to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court after President George W. Bush spoke to the marchers via telephone, telling them the Declaration of Independence protects the weak and the sick. 'Especially unborn children,' Bush said. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: Pro-choice demonstrators wave signs in front of the US Supreme Court 30 November 2005, in Washington,DC.The US Supreme Court prepared to take up an abortion case for the first time in five years on 30 November, in a test of new chief justice John Roberts on a hotly contested issue.The high court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide, while individual states have put in place their own restrictions.The court will hear arguments on a 2003 New Hampshire law requiring minors tell at least one of their parents 48 hours before having an abortion. The only exception is if the girl's life is threatened. Opponents of the law say that exception is not enough. They want girls to be able to obtain an abortion immediately without prior parental permission in cases of medical emergency. Minors seeking abortions must inform their parents in about 30 US states, and in some must seek parental permission. AFP PHOTO/KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 23: 'Defend Life' signs are stacked and given away free to thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators during the March for Life to mark the 33rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade January 23, 2006 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The demonstrators marched up to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court after President George W. Bush spoke to the marchers via telephone, telling them the Declaration of Independence protects the weak and the sick. 'Especially unborn children,' Bush said. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 22: Marchers participating in the annual March for Life pass the U.S. Supreme Court building January 22, 2007 in Washington, DC. Activists from across the nation gathered to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in all fifty states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Pro-life activist Norma McCorvey poses in a Smithville, TX park on a sweltering summer afternoon. McCorvey, who was 'Jane Roe' in the 1973 Supreme Court case of Roe vs. Wade that struck down many state laws that restricted abortion, has led an eventful and fascinating life on both sides of the issue. | Location: Smithville, Texas, USA. (Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Sara Brook, of Missouri, points her finger at a pro choice protestor. Brook is pro life. The annual March for Life Rally marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. The event was held in Washington, DC on Monday. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 23: Pro-choice activists with the National Organization For Women hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 29: In Pittsburgh, PA, abortions are routinely done at the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center as the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is marked this month. A Medical Assistant prepares a procedure room at the beginning of the day.(Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: An anti-abortion protester holds a crucifix at the March for Life on January 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. The pro-life gathering is held each year around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Pro-life activists protest in front of the White House on January 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pro-life activists gather each year to protest on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-choice activists holds a coat hanger, historically used for self-induced abortion, that reads 'never again' in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, during the March For Life rally. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activists holds a placard in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, as she and others await the pro-choice activists with the March For Life. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Sarah Tressler of Alexandria, and her daughter Juliette, 7 months, walk past the Capitol on Constitution Avenue during the annual March for Life, to protest the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion, January 22, 2015. This is the 42nd anniversary of the decision which was handed down by the court on January 22, 1973. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Pro-life protesters wearing ski goggles march in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. The annual March for Life went ahead as planned despite the blizzard warnings issued for the DC area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, were among five GOP senators who met with Trump last month to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy. Both are seen as key swing votes.

After Trump’s announcement, Collins issued a statement citing Kavanaugh’s “impressive credentials and extensive experience,” and vowed to “conduct a careful, thorough vetting.”

“I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office,” she added.

“Tonight the president begins a forced march back to the days when women’s health care choices were made by government,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement late Monday evening. “There can be no mistaking Trump’s Supreme Court nomination for anything but what it is: a direct attempt to overturn Roe. v. Wade.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issued a similar statement.

“Let us be clear: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be a rubber-stamp for an extreme, right-wing agenda pushed by corporations and billionaires,” Sanders said. “The coming Senate debate over the replacement of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is about the future of Roe v. Wade, campaign finance reform, voting rights, workers’ rights, health care, climate change, environmental protection and gun safety.”

He added: “I do not believe a person with those views should be given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. We must mobilize the American people to defeat Trump’s right-wing, reactionary nominee.”

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday ahead of Trump’s announcement, and the size of the crowd increased immediately after.

 

The ‘McConnell rule’

Many Democrats said the Senate should follow the standard set by McConnell and refuse to vote on Trump’s next nominee to the high court. President Barack Obama’s choice for Scalia’s replacement, Merrick Garland, was blocked by Congressional Republicans, who argued that the seat should be left unfilled until after the 2016 election.

“There should be no consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until the American people have a say,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., tweeted. “Leader McConnell set that standard when he denied Judge Garland a hearing for nearly a year, and the Senate should follow the McConnell Standard now.”

Last week, McConnell reportedly told Trump that Kethledge and Hardiman presented the fewest obstacles to being confirmed.

But Leonard Leo, an official of the Federalist Society who is Trump’s top Supreme Court adviser, said Sunday that the pair were lesser known, and it would therefore take longer to line up conservative support for them.

“It’s important to have people who are extremely well known and have distinguished records,” Leo said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sees no such issues.

“Republicans are holding four lottery tickets,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And all of them are winners.”

The White House invited four Democratic senators from red states — Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) — to Monday night’s event. All four declined to attend.

Additional reporting by Christopher Wilson, Michael Walsh, Kadia Tubman and Laina Yost.

Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Reuters, AP (2), Getty Images, Reuters, Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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