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Former Senator Jon Kyl tapped to 'sherpa' Supreme Court nominee

11 July 2018

Live: US President Donald Trump announces his pick for the Supreme Court.

President Donald Trump has decided on his Supreme Court nominee, a person with knowledge of the situation revealed Monday, hours before a prime-time TV announcement that will ignite a fierce confirmation battle.

The last-minute jockeying by lawmakers and other political stakeholders played right into the reality show-like gamesmanship surrounding President Trump's choice for Supreme Court nominee - right down to a blast from the past re-emerging on Trump's list of finalists. How a new Supreme Court Justice gets on the benchOn Monday, Trump phoned Justice Anthony Kennedy to inform him that his former law clerk would be nominated to fill his seat.

Trump has often clashed with Republican leadership, even publicly, and his decision to nominate Kavanaugh could stir up problems between him and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats are warning that Trump's nominee would jeopardize some of progressives' most important policy priorities in recent decades - including rulings that legalized abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as former President Barack Obama's health care law.

The conservatives urged Trump to keep an open mind on Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit, whose confirmation hearing tete-a-tete with Sen.

"Throughout legal circles, he is considered a judge's judge, a true thought leader among his peers", Trump said of Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh once served as a Supreme Court clerk under Kennedy. But his supporters cite his experience and wide range of legal opinions. Heidi Heitkamp - voted "yes" on the confirmation of his first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

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This time, the Republicans have a simple majority in the Senate (51 votes needed), but in an election year anything can happen. A handful of senators are in a particularly tough spot - vote against the nominee and alienate moderate votes they'll need to win re-election or confirm the nominee and weaken democratic unity.

Kavanaugh has been viewed somewhat skeptically by some conservatives, who have scrutinized his ties to the Bushes and his long career inside the Beltway, the proverbial "swamp". At the top of that list is abortion.

In October of a year ago, Kavanaugh was part of the D.C. Court of appeals that ultimately ruled on an immigrant girl's right to have an abortion while she was in US custody. Other Democrats who represent heavily Republican states will also be under pressure to support the nominee.

"I have interviewed many candidates for the federal bench, including (Chief Justice John) Roberts and (Justice Samuel) Alito", said Bush's former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, said. The president has spent the days leading up to his announcement discussing the pros and cons of various contenders with aides and allies. "And I think of the four people I have it down to three or two", The Guardian reported.

Whomever Trump selects could set the court "on a new trajectory and deliver decisions to which conservatives have been looking forward for generations", Bradford Richardson reports for The Washington Times.

But his court record and his status as a Beltway insider could also pose problems for the 53-year-old judge. Dick Durbin once called the "Forrest Gump of Republican politics", later served as partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, DC, and served as senior associate counsel, associate counsel, assistant to the president, and staff secretary to former President George W. Bush.

The White House invited a number of senators to attend the Monday night announcement, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Kennedy. His friends? What is within the scope of Mueller's investigation?

He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

Former Senator Jon Kyl tapped to 'sherpa' Supreme Court nominee