Maine's congressional delegation weighs in on Supreme Court pick

Rex Christensen
July 11, 2018

One day after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, federal judge Brett Kavanaugh arrived at the Senate to meet with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence. His confirmation now rests in the hands of a narrowly split Senate, where defections from Trump's own party could sink his chances. Susan Collins of ME is up for reelection in 2020, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska faces voters in 2022, and we have no particular reason to think either is ready to retire any time soon.

"I find it interesting that that's the question when this name has just been down now for, what: ten hours, twelve hours?"

"Now the tough job for all of us is to go to work". We've got some due diligence that we've got to do. If you're going to do something risky in this emergency situation, it should be something that might actually make a difference.

In fact, Ben Cardin, one of Maryland's two Democratic senators, suspects Kavanaugh's major selling point to Trump was not his glittering conservative bona fides but the judge's record of support for executive authority and privilege, and for deference to the president. Trump was decided on Kavanaugh by Friday, but waited until Sunday to inform the nominee.

The director did not mention how Mr. Kavanaugh's 12 years on the USA appeals court failed to draw the attention of doomsday activists until now.

Although Trump has said he would appoint judges to overturn the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Collins said on CNN Sunday she would not support a candidate who "demonstrated hostility" toward the landmark ruling. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said. "I obviously want the opportunity to sit down with him one-on-one and to get a better sense of his judicial philosophy", she told reporters. "I will be diligent in measuring the record and in undertaking an independent review".

Kennedy has often been the crucial swing vote on the nine-vote court in favour of LGBT equality, authoring rulings in 2003, 2013 and 2015 that invalidated sodomy laws, struck down anti-gay legislation, and introduced equal marriage in all 50 states. "He has impressive credentials, and I look forward to meeting with him to further consider his qualifications and commitment to upholding our Constitution as it is written". Critics argue Kavanaugh should have joined the stronger opinion; defenders say he was merely operating within the framework that both sides of the suit agreed on.

Kyl, a former member of Republican leadership, served on the Senate Judiciary Committee before retiring from the Senate in January 2013.

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The White House wants Kavanaugh to be in place by October 1, when the court's next term formally opens, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will vote to confirm Kennedy's successor in the fall.

But senior Republicans have publicly dismissed this possibility.

"I think that the court is going to incrementally move to the right - I don't think it's going to be huge and dramatic", he said. The Judicial Crisis Network said Monday night it is launching "Confirm Kavanaugh" - a $1.4 million ad buy on national cable and digital platforms in Alabama as well as Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia. "This decision will directly impact nearly 40 percent of my state, so I'm very interested in his position".

Leo said that the left must understand that Catholics should be able to engage in a "vigorous public debate" no matter their personal views on the sanctity of life - an issue raised by Schumer.

One of the biggest issues on which Kavanaugh is expected to have a say is the future of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Heitkamp was more evasive. "Given the prevalence of abortion regulations both historically and at the time, Rehnquist said he could not reach such a conclusion about abortion".

"He's demonstrated a hostility to the Affordable Care Act that the Trump administration is continually working to undermine", Democratic Sen. Trump's first Supreme Court nomination, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate in April 2017.

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