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Battle begins over Trump’s Supreme Court pick

12 July 2018

Probably the death of a justice.

Trump "did exactly what he said he would do on the campaign trail - nominate someone who will overturn women's reproductive rights", the NY senator said. "In that case, I say moms of three or more kids ought to be able to murder at will". "The old dodge of stare decisis has been thrown out the window because Justice [John] Roberts, Justice [Samuel] Alito [Jr.] and Justice [Neil] Gorsuch claimed they would follow precedent and the minute they got on the court they did not". That opinion is not shocking, it's held by many legal experts, Republican and Democrat, alike.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, battling for reelection in a state Trump won in 2016, in a statement on Kavanaugh's nomination, said the "Supreme Court will ultimately decide if almost 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their healthcare". "You'll probably have three". Franklin Roosevelt, with his unparalleled four terms as president, made nine.

While Kavanaugh, 53, was framed as the more "establishment" conservative pick of the other candidates, various Republicans had phoned Trump last week to voice their objections over his potential nomination, including about a 2011 opinion where he declined to rule the Obamacare health insurance mandate as unconstitutional.

The conservative action group Judicial Crisis Network immediately launched a website called ConfirmKavanaugh.com featuring an advertisement for the nominee who "applies the Constitution just as it was written".

Chief Justice John Roberts will soon lose his majority on the Supreme Court. Fourteen years later, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to serve as a justice. Bill Clinton chose Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Justice Clarence Thomas has assets listed between $695,000 to $1.7 million, which is the least among the justices, not counting departing Justice Anthony Kennedy, but still at least 10 times that of Kavanaugh. Shortly after her 2009 nomination to the Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor announced plans for a memoir, which was published in 2013.

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While Scalia's unexpected death in 2016 gave Obama a chance to nominate a third person to the court, Senate Republicans refused to give the Democrat's nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing.

In 2016, McConnell similarly thought an election should play out first before a vote. "But we were operating under a law that said this is what the independent counsel's job is, so that's what we did", Leipold said. "Whoever President Trump put up they were opposed to".

But any events that prolong the replacement of Justice Kennedy - especially past the midterm elections - would elevate the Supreme Court fight in the minds of many voters, thereby improving GOP prospects. It is also possible, however, that Democratic senators such as Joe Manchin (W.Va) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), who are up for reelection in red states, could break party lines and support Kavanaugh. Breyer, who turns 80 in August, was asked last week during an appearance in Colorado if he was contemplating retirement.

The Democrats are trying to pressure two Republicans, Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah was already talking as though a third Trump nominee is assured.

"Obviously the more there is, the more opportunities there are to highlight why he's problematic", one senior Democratic aide said, adding that given it's a lifetime appointment, Democrats should have access to everything that exists.

Hatch didn't theorize when that might be, but Trump noted on the campaign trail that Scalia's death was "a surprise".

While one national political analyst said McCain, who has been in Arizona since late previous year battling brain cancer, may be willing to give up his seat if it would help Kavanaugh be confirmed, another Arizona lawmaker has different thoughts. "But they didn't think him and all of a sudden he's gone. That was shocking to people, so you never know what's going to happen".

Battle begins over Trump’s Supreme Court pick