Democratic lawmakers voiced near-immediate opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, on Monday, warning that he would swing the bench to the far right and likely imperil the future of abortion rights and health care access.
“One thing’s already clear from his record: He can’t be trusted to safeguard rights for women, workers or to end the flow of corporate money to campaigns,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter. “The American people deserve the opportunity to make their voices heard in November about this lifetime appointment.”
Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old federal appeals judge, is a reliable conservative who could, if confirmed, tilt the high court solidly to the right for decades. He has emerged as a vocal supporter of expansive presidential power, signaled his hostility to reproductive rights and written almost entirely in favor of big business.
His confirmation hearings will likely begin quickly, but the battle is expected to be highly contentious. The judge will need at least 51 votes in the Senate to receive approval, and Republicans hold exactly that number of seats. While most Republicans are expected to vote in alignment with the president’s pick, some lawmakers have broken with their party in the past, making every vote count.
Many Democrats have already appeared to line up against the nominee.
“In selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) said in a statement. “This nomination could alter the balance of the court in favor of powerful special interests and against working families for a generation.… We cannot let that happen.”
Several Democrats announced their plans to oppose his nomination, including Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.). Many of their colleagues, however, said that, although they had reservations, they would meet with Kavanaugh before any confirmation vote.
“A thorough vetting of Judge Kavanaugh’s body of work will be critical for the Senate to fulfill its shared responsibility — which I take very seriously,” Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, one of several Democratic lawmakers from red states, said on Twitter. “I will be diligent in measuring the record and in undertaking an independent review.”
Democrats are hoping that some of their Republican colleagues, most notable Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), will join them in opposing Trump’s pick. Both women have broken with their party in the past, and Collins said earlier this month that she would not back a candidate who “demonstrated a hostility to Roe v. Wade,” the landmark Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, saying the issue was “settled law.”
“I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered,” she said late Monday.
Trump said during his announcement Monday that he had not asked Kavanaugh how he planned to vote on cases before the court.
“What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require,” the president said. “I am pleased to say that I have found without doubt such a person.”
Doha Madani contributed to this report.