While activists and progressive groups are targeting moderate Republican senators who support abortion rights like Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, urging them to reject any Trump nominee who is hostile to Roe v. Wade, a handful of Democrats will be key in deciding whether the president gets his pick confirmed to the high court, because of the razor-thin partisan divide in the Senate.
This will be the second time he has been able to choose a justice in the past 18 months.
A ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats is expected as the president seeks to shift the nation's highest court further to the right.
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. He was in the running past year for the Supreme Court seat left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He was appointed to that post by President George W. Bush, after serving as Bush's White House staff secretary. He served on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmations of four of the last five justices who have joined the Supreme Court.
Trump called Kavanaugh "one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time", saying he is "considered a judge's judge and a true thought leader among his peers". He has lied so often that we can not believe anything he says.
With a slim one vote majority in the Senate, any GOP defections could prove problematic in winning confirmation for Trump's eventual choice, that is if Democrats hold together in opposition. He was a runner-up past year when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Raymond Kethledge is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit who has been dubbed "Gorsuch 2.0". Barrett is a former University of Notre Dame law professor, (and a graduate of the school; Kavanaugh meanwhile received his undergrad and law degrees from Yale). Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote on Garland's nomination. Trump's sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry also sits on the 3rd Circuit and reportedly backed Hardiman for the seat Gorsuch eventually filled.
Kavanaugh, in brief remarks at the White House, underscored his conservative credentials.
Trump also hopes to pressure several Democrats into voting to confirm his nominee. All three voted in favor of Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee. He was part of Independent Counsel's Ken Starr's endless investigation of Bill Clinton during Clinton's presidency. A more conservative majority could be more willing to uphold state restrictions on abortion, if not overturn the 45-year-old landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's constitutional right.
On Sunday Leonard Leo, a Federalist Society official who has been advising Trump, added a fourth name: that of Thomas Hardiman, 53, a federal appeals court judge in Philadelphia.
If confirmed, Kavanaugh would replace a frequent swing vote on the bench, retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often sided with his liberal colleagues on issues such as abortion, affirmative action and LGBT rights.
"I suspect this is going to be a rough, tough, down in the dirt, ear-pulling, nose-biting fight", Kennedy said.