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

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

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".

The White House said Trump has interviewed four potential picks, all of whom are federal appeals court judges.

Trump's pick, if confirmed by the Senate, will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has always been the swing vote on the divided court.

Kavanaugh would be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than Kennedy was.

Trump a year ago appointed Neil 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. He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement vacated the seat that he has now been nominated for.

With approximately 300 opinions issued in 12 years as a judge and a raft of legal articles and speaking engagements, Kavanaugh was the most prolific of the nominees the president was said to be considering for the role.

Trump's other leading candidates for the post were fellow federal appellate judges Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

Kavanaugh is a former loyal aide to George W. Bush - serving as White House lawyer and staff secretary - but has received criticism from the right over a 2015 ruling on ObamaCare.

The appointment is seen as crucial because Kennedy was often a swing vote who would sometimes side with the court's four conservative justices and at other times with its liberals. He now works for the Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. It's a similar playbook to one the group followed past year with Judge Neil Gorsuch. He is also former law clerk to Kennedy, as is Kethledge. 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.

Trump said Kavanaugh has "impeccable credentials and unsurpassed qualifications".

In a primetime announcement at the White House, Mr Trump praised his pick as a "brilliant jurist".

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of CT, who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee that holds hearings on Supreme Court nominees, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that Trump has "outsourced" his decision to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

Kavanaugh, 53, is said to be supported by White House Counsel Don McGahn, who's supervising the search. He was confirmed in 2006 after Democrats mounted a long fight against his nomination on the grounds that Kavanaugh was overly partisan. Susan Collins, who declined the invitation.

Blumenthal told Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that the public supports abortion rights. Asked by reporters how many people were being considered, the president said: "Let's say it's the four people ... they're excellent, every one". He called it the "fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp". Kavanaugh will need to be confirmed by a majority of the Senate before taking his place as one of the nine Supreme Court justices.