CBSN

Reactions to Trump's decision to nominate Brett Kavanaugh

Last Updated Jul 10, 2018 5:05 AM EDT

Reactions rolled in swiftly to President Trump's decision to nominate 53-year-old Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, after Mr. Trump made the much-anticipated announcement Monday from the White House's East Room. 

Key for Kavanaugh's nomination will be the decisions of a handful of moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats. So far, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have said they are undecided on the president's pick and will await a review. Kavanaugh needs just 51 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

"As the senator from West Virginia, I have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill Supreme Court vacancies and I take that responsibility seriously," Manchin, who faces a tough reelection race in November, said in his statement. "Just as I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I will evaluate Judge Kavanaugh's record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare."

Kavanaugh, a Yale Law School graduate who clerked for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, once worked under former President George W. Bush. Bush was among the first to respond to Kavanaugh's nomination Monday night. Kavanaugh worked for Bush during the 2000 recount, in the White House as an aide, and then was appointed to the federal appeals court in D.C. by Bush. 

"President Trump has made an outstanding decision in nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," Bush said. "Brett is a brilliant jurist who has faithfully applied the Constitution and laws throughout his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit. He is a fine husband, father, and friend  and a man of the highest integrity. He will make a superb justice of the Supreme Court of the United States."

Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely be a key vote during the confirmation process, praised Kavanaugh's credentials. 

"Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals," Collins said in a statement. 

"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. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh's public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, also had favorable words for Kavanaugh, who will need the Republican Party leadership's support heading into his confirmation process. It is unclear yet if any Democrats in the Senate will vote to confirm him — but Kavanaugh needs nearly every GOP vote he can get. 

"President Trump has made a superb choice," McConnell said in a statement. "Judge Brett Kavanaugh is an impressive nominee who is extremely well qualified to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States."

"I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and to the Senate's fair consideration of his nomination, beginning with the work of Chairman Grassley and the Judiciary Committee," McConnell continued. "This is an opportunity for Senators to put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command."

Many Democrats were also swift to give their on-the-record reactions to Kavanaugh's selection. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania issued a statement saying he would almost certainly oppose the nominee -- hours before Mr. Trump even made his announcement. 

"If an individual from the list provided to candidate Donald Trump by far-right organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society is nominated, then I am highly unlikely to support that nominee," Casey said. "Justices who sit on the most important court in the world should not be selected by corporate interests and extreme right organizations."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the Kavanaugh nomination "a clear and disrespectful assault on the fundamental rights of women and on the quality, affordable health care of the American people."

"Judge Kavanaugh's long history of opposition to the full, fundamental right of every woman to make her own decisions about her body, family and health care poses a grave threat to women's rights and to our founders' promise of liberty and justice for all," she said. "If he proves as eager an executor of the president's bitter campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade and sabotage Americans' health care as his record suggests, a woman's right to choose will be repealed and the health coverage and economic security of 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be in grave peril."

Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others organized a "protest, rally, and civil disobedience resisting Trump's SCOTUS nominee" outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Friday evening, during which a New York City councilman and several others were placed under arrest.

Jumaane Williams, a New York City Council member who is currently also running for the office of deputy governor of New York, addressed the crowd in front of Trump Tower before he and others were taken into custody. The NYPD told CBS News that preliminary information indicated a total of seven people were arrested during the protest, but the department did not confirm identities. 

A senior White House official tells CBS News' Margaret Brennan that Kavanaugh will be escorted to Capitol Hill Tuesday by Vice President Mike Pence, who will introduce him to leadership on the Hill. Kavanaugh will also attend the Senate policy lunch. 

On a short list of all conservative judges, Kavanaugh was considered one of the slightly more moderate, established candidates. Kavanaugh, for instance, has not been as vocal about his opinions on abortion as, say, Amy Coney Barrett, another top contender for the role. But conservatives are still generally expected to rally around his selection.

The Susan B. Anthony list, which opposes abortion, still called Kavanaugh's selection a win for life. 

"President Trump has made another outstanding choice in nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, keeping his promise to nominate only originalist judges to the Court," said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. "Judge Kavanaugh is an experienced, principled jurist with a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights, as evidenced by his opinions in Garza v. Hargan and Priests for Life v. HHS."

Conservative Heritage Action's Executive Director Tim Chapman said Mr. Trump had fulfilled "yet another campaign promise to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in the mold of Justices Scalia and Gorsuch who will impartially uphold the law and the Constitution as written." 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.