Ex-Clinton adviser: Trump aiming for 'right-wing takeover' of the courts

Pauline Gross
July 11, 2018

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

The Senate must confirm Trump's nominee, who will be backed campaign-style by the White House and conservative legal organizations.

USA appeals court judges Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett were also in contention but CNN reported that Kethledge remains at home in MI and NBC News said Barrett was at her home in IN ahead of Trump's announcement.

While the president has been pondering his pick, aides have been preparing for a tough confirmation fight.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a key Republican vote, was also invited to the White House but is not going, she said Monday.

Over the weekend, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, reportedly told Trump that Kethledge and Hardiman likely face the fewest obstacles in the confirmation process.

The process is arduous, with the private meetings giving way to days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Republicans meanwhile are lobbying the White House on behalf of their preferred candidate.

"There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving", Trump said of Kavanaugh on Monday night. Both support a woman's right to have an abortion and will be looking for assurances that the nominee would not overturn the Roe v Wade decision establishing abortion rights. Chuck Schumer (D- NY) says by picking Kavanaugh, Trump is delivering on his pledge to "punish" women for their choices, putting abortion rights and health care protections for women "on the judicial chopping block".

Savoring the suspense, Trump has sought to keep people guessing in the final hours, hoping to replicate his successful announcement of Justice Neil Gorsuch previous year. But the situation appeared to remain fluid.

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Since 2006, Kavanaugh has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often called the nation's second most powerful court. He financed his law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center by driving a taxi.

The potential nominees were narrowed down from a list of 25 administration-approved judges, former judges and one member of Congress, as curated by Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society and Trump's top Supreme Court adviser.

But his supporters note his experience and a wide range of legal opinions.

Kavanaugh once served as a Supreme Court clerk under Kennedy.

Barrett - a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor who became a federal judge last fall - excited social conservatives since she was questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings past year, but her brief time on the bench has raised questions about her experience.

In October of past year, 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 USA custody. He co-authored a book with Army veteran Mike Erwin of The Positivity Project published a year ago called "Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude". "She's very smart, she knows what she's talking about, she's a law professor, I really have a high regard for her", Hatch said. "This is a really big decision for him".

Trump promised Sunday to choose an "exceptional person" for the post, but some Democrats were already signalling blanket opposition.

"And Brett Kavanaugh, also a judge, worked for [President] George W. Bush". Dick Durbin of IL on NBC's "Meet the Press" said Sunday. As recently as past year, he disregarded Supreme Court precedent and opposed the health care rights of a vulnerable young woman. He is an evangelical Christian whose book Lead Yourself First uses President Dwight Eisenhower, primatologist Jane Goodall, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr. and others as examples of "leaders who have used solitude to function more effectively". "And I expect we will do that on sort of a normal timetable, a couple of months". So far, Trump has installed more than 20 appeals court judges and more than 16 trial court judges on the federal bench.

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