Good Morning…. It’s Tuesday…. We hope you have a beautiful day.

And now it’s down to business….. 

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As you may already know President Trump nominated District of Columbia Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday, igniting a vicious election year confirmation battle in the Senate that could tip the Supreme Court in favor of conservatives for a generation.

Trump appeared reserved and reflective as he announced Kavanaugh’s nomination from the East Room of the White House, where he noted that Supreme Court appointments are among a president’s most solemn and consequential duties.

Then he got down to the business of politics.

“He deserves a swift confirmation and robust bipartisan support.” – Trump.

Kavanaugh has spent 12 years on the federal bench and has written nearly 300 opinions, which he’ll have to defend in meetings with senators on Capitol Hill beginning today. His time in the White House was spent in service to a “compassionate conservative” president who came to Washington from the establishment wing of the Republican Party and from a dynastic political family.

The effort to convince wavering Democrats that he’s not a right-wing ideologue began in his acceptance speech, where Kavanaugh tried to head off liberal concerns that he might, if confirmed, set the nation back decades on issues pertaining to gender equality and civil rights.

Kavanaugh stated that the majority of clerks he’d hired have been women. He described his mother, a former prosecutor who was in the East Room, as a “trailblazer” who once taught at predominantly minority schools in Washington, D.C. Her experiences in education, he said, taught him the importance of “equality for all Americans.”

And he expressed pride and gratitude that he’d been hired to teach at Harvard Law School by liberal Justice Elena Kagan at a time when she served as dean. He also clerked for Kennedy.

“I will keep an open mind in every case.” – Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh, flanked by his wife and two young daughters, also cast himself as a well-rounded, involved family man with deep ties to friends, his faith, and to the local community.

A former altar boy, Kavanaugh is Catholic and he talked about how he still serves the poor alongside his longtime priest. He coaches his daughter’s basketball team, where he’s earned the nickname “Coach K.” And Kavanaugh, who served as counsel to former President George W. Bush, remembered running out of the White House on 9/11 alongside Ashley Estes, a young aide who became his wife. The two had their first date only hours before the terror attacks.

Where do Republicans stand?

Kavanaugh needs only a simple majority to be confirmed and with 51 Republicans in the Senate, his chances seem good.

But there are potential hurdles:

> Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): Both women were among the 57 senators who voted in 2006 to confirm Kavanaugh to the appeals court. But that was a dozen years ago, for a less seismic job. Both Collins and Murkowski support abortion rights. They will need to be convinced that Kavanaugh is not intent on overturning Roe v. Wade. The senators declined White House invitations to attend last night’s event.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) pressed Kavanaugh during his 2006 confirmation hearing to explain his personal views about Roe, and Kavanaugh declined to answer. But he added:

“If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court. It’s been decided by the Supreme Court.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.): Paul has expressed concerns that Kavanaugh once wrote that the government’s metadata communications collection practices are not in violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. Paul disagrees vehemently and declined an invitation to attend last night’s event, but vowed to keep an open mind.

So Where do Democrats Stand?

Those who are not up for reelection this year have it easy. They have the running room to oppose Kavanaugh and demand that all of their colleagues follow suit. Democrats’ rhetoric in opposing Trump’s nominee will sound dire. For instance:

“Roe v. Wade could be overturned and abortion and forms of contraception criminalized. Americans with pre-existing conditions could lose life-saving health care. Marriage equality could be overturned. Racial inequality and blatant voter suppression could be further embraced by the highest court in the land.” – Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The real question: What will be the decisions of 10 red-state Democrats in the Senate who are up for reelection this year? None has tipped his or her hand, but the pressure is enormous. The price of a vote one way or another on Kavanaugh could be reelection.

Three Democratic senators –  Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) – voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.

Purely speculation on our part but Gorsuch was a conservative justice replacing a conservative justice. It will be much tougher for Democrats to vote for a conservative justice replacing a swing-vote justice. Manchin, Donnelly and Heitkamp declined White House invitations to attend last night’s event.

What now?

The money is already flowing for what will almost certainly be the most expensive Supreme Court confirmation battle in history.  The Wall Street Journal: Outside groups’ spending on confirmation battle has already begun.

The president’s goal: Kavanaugh’s confirmation by mid-September. The Supreme Court begins a new term in early October. And voters decide whether Republicans keep their House and Senate majorities in four short months.

What everyone else is thinking…..

Analysis from around the web

The Wall Street Journal: Kavanaugh, in his own words.

The Washington Post: Kavanaugh is “an unrelenting, unapologetic defender of presidential power.”

The Washington Post analysis: Chief Justice John Roberts now becomes the median justice on the court.

The New York Times: Kavanaugh is a conservative stalwart in political fights and on the bench.

The New York Times: How Kavanaugh’s ideology compares with other judges (graphic).

The Associated Press: Trump has been molding the judiciary for 18 months, to last a generation.

 

Opinions, as if they were important

Richard Wolf: Kavanaugh straight out of central casting.

Lori Ringhand and Paul M. Collins Jr.: Answer the Senate’s questions, Judge Kavanaugh.

Akhil Reed Amar: A liberal’s case for Kavanaugh.

Matthew Yglesias: Kavanaugh is a normal Republican and a risk to democracy.

Ruth Marcus: ‘Political suicide’ for red-state Democrats to oppose Kavanaugh.


Special Thanks to The Hill

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