Democratic senators seen as potential swing votes in favor of President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, said Monday following his nomination that they would examine his record closely.
In contrast with many Democratic senators who’d already made the case that Trump should wait until after the 2018 midterm election in order to nominate a judge to fill retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat — just as Senate Republicans obstructed Obama nominee Merrick Garland for months ahead of the 2016 election — Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) made no mention of delaying consideration for Kavanaugh.
“Following the president’s announcement, I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” Donnelly said.
“Now I’ll get to work to thoroughly review and vet his record to provide advice and consent for filling this vacancy, which is part of my constitutional duty,” Heitkamp echoed.
“Just as I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated,” Manchin noted, “I will evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare.”
Conservatives will look to Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin as potential Democratic votes in favor of Kavanaugh, since the three senators face tough re-election races in the fall in red states won by Trump in 2016.
Other Democratic senators from Trump-voting states, including Bill Nelson (D-FL), also said they’d hear Kavanaugh out.
It was a much different message than those issued by many Senate Democrats representing blue states, typified in Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) response to the nomination.
Arguing that Kavanaugh’s “own writings make clear that he would rule against reproductive rights and freedoms, and that he would welcome challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,” Schumer said in a statement that he would “oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same.”
Heitkamp appeared ready to counter that argument from Democratic leadership.
“I have no doubt that many members of Congress and outside groups will announce how they stand on the nominee before doing their due diligence and instead just take a partisan stance—but that isn’t how I work,” her statement read. “An exhaustive and fair process took place for Justice Gorsuch, who I supported, and it should and must take place again now.”