President Donald Trump announced his selection to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy Monday as conservative Washington D.C. insider Brett Kavanaugh.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who once held a court seat open for almost a year before the 2016 election to keep former President Barack Obama from filling it, lambasted Democrats for announcing their opposition before Trump had decided on a nominee.
Kavanaugh would be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than Kennedy was. Jon Kyl (R) to help shepherd President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Wolf in July Fourth salute: "God bless abortions and God bless America" Graham: Trump's Supreme Court picks "all winners" Man arrested after allegedly threatening to kill Trump supporters, GOP lawmaker MORE's Supreme Court nominee through the Senate.
Some conservatives have expressed concerns about Kavanaugh - a longtime judge and a former clerk for Kennedy - questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion and noting his time serving under President George W. Bush as evidence he is a more establishment choice.
"No matter how intense the incoming fire, he'll stand by his legal principles", said Justin Walker, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville who clerked for Kavanaugh in 2010 and 2011.
Kavanaugh has been a judge on the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006.
Before his stint in the Bush White House, Kavanaugh worked for Ken Starr, the lawyer who led the investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. "A judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law".
But that element of his record is among the reasons that some Republicans in Congress are concerned about a confirmation hearing in the Senate.
How Trump's SCOTUS nominee will change the Court
It will feature cable and digital advertising in states including Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from NY , called Kavanaugh out for his stance on net neutrality in a tweet on July 3 .
A group of Democratic senators from Republican-leaning states - lawmakers who could be pivotal in the confirmation fight - declined Trump's invitation to attend the White House announcement.
Conservatives will focus on moderate Democrats running for re-election in Trump country, such as Indiana's Joe Donnelly, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia's Joe Manchin.
Trump's aides have prepared briefing books and booked television spots for whomever he picks, anticipating that they'll have little time to spare between his decision and the reveal, sources tell ABC News.
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.
Both endorsed Kavanaugh's candidacy for the high court in a letter addressed to Congressional leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Kavanaugh, 53, is said to be supported by White House Counsel Don McGahn, who's supervising the search. Three Democratic senators who voted for Gorsuch - Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of IN and Joe Manchin of West Virginia - are up for re-election IN states Trump won handily IN 2016. The court's senior liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is 85.
Hatch, who has participated in the confirmation hearings for 15 justices, including all nine now on the high court, says any one of the four would make a good justice.
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