President Donald Trump was poised Monday to nominate a new conservative judge to the Supreme Court, a decision with momentous implications for America on everything from abortion to guns to immigration.
"When there's so little actual daylight between the four front-runners, it's not surprising that the partisans are going to try to grasp onto whatever micro distinction they can find", said Stephen Vladeck, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas Law School. You know, that said, he has made promises to his base. If Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., does not return to vote after months of absence fighting cancer and Democrats hold together in opposition, a single Republican defection could sink the nominee. Jon Kyl., R-Ariz., will accompany the nominee during visits to individual senators.
The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), whose leaders pushed Justice Neil Gorsuch over the finish line previous year, are getting their war chests ready.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) insisted Sunday on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that delaying Trump's nominee as a Democratic bloc is even more important than the reelection hopes of vulnerable red-state senators struggling to retain their seats by supporting the nominee. Still, Hardiman's decision could be a factor if some kind of challenge eventually makes its way to the high court. Barrett is a member of the obscure Catholic group People of Praise, which Vox reports requires members to "swear an oath of loyalty and give each other input on personal life decisions". If Mr. McCain is not able to vote, only one Republican would have to defect to derail the confirmation, assuming the Democrats maintain flawless party discpline.
While the president has been pondering his choice, his aides have been preparing for what is expected to be a tough confirmation fight.
It also plans to run ads next week in Manchin's, Donnelly's and Heitkamp's home states with a softer tone, asking them to continue protecting people with pre-existing health conditions by opposing a nominee who'd threaten that.
Although Trump said during the campaign he would appoint anti-abortion judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, he said he would not ask candidates about whether they think the ruling should be reversed.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell threw his support behind Kavanaugh's nomination. Kavanaugh has an extensive paper trail that could potentially enable Democrats to stretch the confirmation beyond the 2018 midterm election. Trump pledged in 2016 that he would be "putting pro-life justices on the court". In that same paper, Kavanaugh argued that the "indictment and trial of a sitting president...would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the worldwide or domestic arena" and that "even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation...are time consuming and distracting". "It is going to represent a really significant ideological and political shift, and it's going to have, I think, a seismic impact on the rule of law". Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 will face pressure to back his nominee. Previously, Collins voted for Gorsuch because of his belief in the significance of precedent.
On one front he has been clear, however - while he admires Kavanaugh's credentials, he is also concerned by his work in the Bush administration. Michigan's Kethledge is on the 6th Circuit, while Indiana's Barrett is on the 7th Circuit.
MCCAMMON: Well, the other two names that we're hearing a lot about are Thomas Hardiman, another federal appeals judge who was a runner-up to Justice Neal Gorsuch the last time around. But the situation appeared to remain fluid. Eastern, featured undated clips from newscasts and talk shows when speakers derided the prospects for Trump to win the country's highest elected office. She's just been a federal judge for about a year. Hardiman was counted as a front runner during last year's nomination that ultimately went to Gorsuch. It'll happen tonight at 9 p.m. The group says it has reserved air time nationally and in those same states for another four weeks. "Every one. You can't go wrong".
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