Doug Jones said Sunday that he could vote either way on President Donald Trump's yet-to-be announced nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He also says he is "deeply honored" to be nominated to fill the seat of Kennedy, for whom he clerked.
The White House said former Republican Senator Jon Kyl, now a Washington lobbyist, will help Trump's nominee navigate the Senate confirmation process. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters that he was really pleased with the chance to confirm a second conservative justice to the Supreme Court in two years.
The Supreme Court building is seen in Washington in this June 26, 2017 photo. Such a stance could prove relevant if the Supreme Court is ever tasked with deciding the fate of actions in Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, such as an attempt at subpoenaing the president for an interview.
He wrote a Minnesota law review article in 2009 arguing that presidents should be shielded from criminal investigations and civil lawsuits while in office. The favorite of White House Counsel Donald McGahn, Kavanaugh is also considered a safer pick than some of the more partisan choices who were on the president's shortlist.
Kavanaugh's work on the Starr report has been scrutinized by Republicans who have said it could pose trouble for the president as he negotiates with special counsel Robert Mueller over the terms of a possible interview related to Mueller's Russian Federation probe. Multiple sources told ABC News that as of Sunday, the final four individuals Trump was considering for the vacancy were Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman, all federal appeals court judges. But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions.
Trump's choice, if confirmed by the Senate, will have a major voice on landmark cases for years to come. Ten Democrats from states that Trump won are up for re-election this fall and will be under tremendous pressure to back the president's nominee.
Judge Kavanaugh said he would begin meetings with senators on Tuesday.
More than any other accomplishment, including the passage of the GOP's tax cuts, the remaking of the judiciary is fast becoming the cornerstone of the Republican leader's legacy.
That means Kavanaugh is not a stranger to tough confirmation fights.
Democrats and liberal advocacy groups quickly lined up in opposition.
Meanwhile, liberal groups are already calling on two moderate Republican senators - Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - to reject the nominee. The White House extended invitations to Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Still, Republicans can only lose one vote.
Three Democrats who were invited but declined were Sens. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to oppose any nominee who threatens Roe v. Wade.
It rules on such issues as abortion, the death penalty, voter rights, immigration policy, campaign finance and racial bias in policing. They see him as too pragmatic and have painted him as the kind of nominee who could betray conservatives.
Democrats' hopes are pinned on two Republican senators, Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who both oppose any nominee who threatens the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling recognizing abortion as a constitutional right.
Kennedy's replacement also could be more willing to allow states to carry out executions and could support undoing earlier court holdings in the areas of racial discrimination in housing and the workplace. "This is a nightmare for red state Democrats to oppose a highly qualified nominee - and all four [of the reported finalists] are highly qualified, been on the court, know what they are doing, mainstream judges". He served in the Solicitor General's Office at the Justice Department and worked on President Bill Clinton-related investigations in the Office of the Independent Counsel under Kenneth W. Starr. So it's in the president's interest to pick someone who can be confirmed quickly.
Kavanaugh has attracted the most attention for his view that presidents shouldn't be bothered with legal inquiries. "And just like Justice Gorsuch, he excelled as a legal clerk for Justice Kennedy", Trump added, saying his nominee "deserves a swift confirmation and robust bipartisan support".
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