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Tuesday September 18th, 2018 7:29PM

The Latest: Liberals rally on court steps against Kavanaugh

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's nomination of a Supreme Court justice (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups are holding a raucous late-night rally on the steps of the Supreme Court to oppose President Trump's nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

The rally began shortly after Trump's 9 p.m. Monday announcement and included chants of "Hell no on Kavanaugh." The speakers say the nominee poses a threat to abortion rights and health care protections.

Several senators seen as possible White House candidates in 2020 addressed the crowd, including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Merkley says, "This nomination tonight is all about power over the people. ... I can tell you this is the most political of possible appointments. This is a nominee who wants to pave the path to tyranny."

___

10:25 p.m.

Three Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in strongly pro-Trump states are reacting cautiously to President Donald Trump's Supreme Court choice.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is shedding the most light on his views about Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Manchin says the Obama-era health care law provides crucial protections to 800,000 constituents with pre-existing medical conditions, so he says he wants to know Kavanaugh's views on that statute. Some Democrats say based on Trump's past statements, he'd favor a nominee leaning toward eviscerating that 2010 statute.

North Dakotan Heidi Heitkamp says she'll "thoroughly review and vet" Kavanaugh's record. And Indiana's Joe Donnelly says he'll weigh Kavanaugh's "record and qualifications."

Trump announced his nomination of Kavanaugh on Monday evening. He won each of the three states in 2016 by landslides.

___

10:20 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence plans to escort Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate on Tuesday morning to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The White House says Pence is also planning to attend the weekly Senate policy luncheon with Republican senators to discuss Trump's nominee.

Pence was expected to sell the merits of the nominee in media interviews on local television and radio states in certain states that Trump won in 2016 that have Democratic senators.

The vice president was also holding a national outreach call with conservative and business stakeholders and appearing on two national television interviews from Capitol Hill.

Trump announced the nomination of Kavanaugh on Monday night.

___

9:50 p.m.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he's keeping an "open mind" on President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

The conservative senator tweeted Monday that he looks forward to the upcoming Senate hearings, reviewing the circuit court judge's record "and meeting personally with Judge Kavanaugh, with an open mind."

Paul was among conservatives signing on to a statement of support last week for fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

Conservative and libertarian-leaning activists raised concerns about Kavanaugh. Some conservatives said Paul said he might oppose a Kavanaugh nomination, but Paul did not publicly say he would vote against him.

___

9:30 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a "superb" Supreme Court pick and that senators should "put partisanship aside" in considering him.

President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh's nomination Monday evening.

Democrats are already lining up against Kavanaugh as too conservative. But McConnell says senators should give him "the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command."

McConnell says Kavanaugh believes judges should ignore their personal and political views and simply "interpret our laws as they are written."

The Kentucky Republican faces a challenge in winning Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Republicans hold a mere 50-49 Senate majority, with the prolonged absence of the ailing Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain. The defection of one Republican would kill the nomination unless at least one Democrat votes yes.

___

9:25 p.m.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh says he is "humbled" and "deeply honored" to have been selected by President Donald Trump for the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh told the president Monday night as he took the microphone to accept his nomination that he was "grateful to you" and "humbled by your confidence in me."

He also says he is "deeply honored" to be nominated to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he clerked.

Kavanaugh says that if he's confirmed, he "will keep an open mind in every case" and "always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law."

He also thanked his parents and talked about his young daughters, whose basketball teams he coaches. He says his daughters' teammates call him "Coach K."

___

9:20 p.m.

The Senate's top Democrat says President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court puts abortion rights and health care protections for women "on the judicial chopping block."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says by picking Kavanaugh, Trump is delivering on his pledge to "punish" women for their choices.

He says he will fight the nomination "with everything I have." He's urging people to make their voices heard, an indirect reference to voicing their objections to senators.

Schumer says if Kavanaugh is confirmed, "women's reproductive rights would be in the hands of five men on the Supreme Court."

Schumer and other Democrats have cited campaign statements Trump made to assert that any of the candidates Trump mulled would oppose abortion rights and the Obama-era health care law.

___

9:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has introduced his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as "a judge's judge" and cited his "proven commitment to equal justice under the law."

Trump announced Kavanaugh as his pick Monday night on prime-time television.

The 53-year-old Kavanaugh is a longtime fixture of the Republican establishment. He has been a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington since 2006. He also was a key aide to Kenneth Starr during the investigation of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh also worked in the White House during George W. Bush's presidency.

Trump says Kavanaugh has "impeccable credentials and unsurpassed qualifications."

Trump made the announcement in the East Room of the White House and rousing applause broke out as Kavanaugh entered with his wife and two daughters.

___

9:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump made his final decision to nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday night.

A senior White House official says Trump called Kavanaugh on Sunday evening to inform him that he was his choice to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

On Monday, Trump phoned Justice Anthony Kennedy to inform him that his former law clerk would be nominated to fill his seat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also received a heads-up from the president. The president briefed Senate Republicans at the White House Monday evening shortly before making the public announcement.

The official says Trump decided on Kavanaugh because of his large body of jurisprudence cited by other courts, describing him as a judge that other judges read.

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

— Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed

___

9:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is nominating influential conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as he seeks to shift the nation's highest court further to the right.

Trump chose the 53-year-old federal appellate judge for the seat opened up by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh would be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than Kennedy was.

Kavanaugh is Trump's second high court pick after Justice Neil Gorsuch. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch served as law clerks to Kennedy at the same time early in their legal careers.

Kavanaugh is a longtime fixture of the Republican legal establishment. He has been a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington since 2006. He also was a key aide to Kenneth Starr during his investigation of President Bill Clinton and worked in the White House during George W. Bush's presidency.

___

9 p.m.

A senior White House official says President Donald Trump intends to nominate influential conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as he seeks to shift the balance of the court further to the right.

Trump plans to announce Monday that he has selected the 53-year-old federal appellate judge for the seat opened up by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement.

Kavanaugh is a longtime fixture of the Republican legal establishment. He has been a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington since 2006. He also was a key aide to Kenneth Starr during his investigation of President Bill Clinton and worked in the White House during George W. Bush's presidency.

— By Associated Press writer Zeke Miller

___

8:55 p.m.

A senior White House official says President Donald Trump intends to nominate influential conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as he seeks to shift the balance of the court further to the right. Trump plans to announce Monday that he has selected the 53-year-old federal appellate judge for the seat opened up by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement.

— By Associated Press writer Zeke Miller

___

6:55 p.m.

Sen. Orrin Hatch says he has spoken with President Donald Trump about his nominee to the Supreme Court and doesn't believe he's going to pick Amy Coney Barrett.

The Utah Republican said Monday of Barrett: "I don't think she's going to be the one who's chosen this time."

The senator had stumped publicly for her and called her an outstanding judge. But the president in recent days seemed to narrow his shortlist for the court down to two other appellate judges, Brett Kavanaugh and Thomas Hardiman.

Hatch demurred when asked by reporters whether Trump is nominating Kavanaugh.

He says: "I'm pretty sure who it's going to be, so I don't want to give something up."

Trump is announcing his selection Monday night.

___

6:25 p.m.

Is there a Supreme Court sign in these tea leaves?

A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals' 2-1 opinion issued Monday is raising speculation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Here's why: Kavanaugh's court rarely issues opinions on Monday. But if Kavanaugh is Trump's choice, he likely would step away from pending cases. In the case decided Monday that had to do with attorneys' fees, there would be no majority if Kavanaugh were to withdraw.

Trump is set to announce his choice Monday night.

Mike Sacks, a reporter for the Fox television affiliate in New York and a self-described lapsed lawyer, was among the first to make the connection on Twitter.

___

4:35 p.m.

Three Democratic senators sure to face tremendous pressure over whether to back President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee have been invited to Monday's White House announcement of the pick. But Indiana's Joe Donnelly, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia's Joe Manchin all say they won't attend.

All face tough re-election races this November in states Trump won easily in 2016.

All three states lean heavily Republican. But nearly all Senate Democrats and many Democratic voters are expected to oppose Trump's nominee. They say the person would likely take strongly conservative views on issues like abortion and health care.

The White House would love to have the Democrats' votes for confirmation. Issuing the invitations makes the lawmakers choose between humoring voters who think they should be bipartisan and others who feel they shouldn't condone Trump's pick.

___

4:10 p.m.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says Republicans know they're in for a contentious battle to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee to serve on the Supreme Court, but "won't back down from the fight."

Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, says it's "extremely disappointing" that some Democrats have made clear they'll oppose the nominee even before the president announces his choice.

Cornyn says Democrats have pledged to stop the nominee at all costs, but "we will see President Trump's nominee confirmed on a timely basis."

Cornyn spoke shortly after Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said any of Trump's likely nominees poses a threat to the Affordable Care Act and a woman's right to have an abortion.

Senators are trying to frame the debate before Trump's 9 p.m. announcement.

___

3:30 p.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says a weekend move by the Trump administration to undercut the Affordable Care Act is another reason for senators to closely scrutinize the president's Supreme Court nominee.

With little warning, the Republican administration announced it is freezing payments under an "Obamacare" program that protects insurers with sicker patients from financial losses. If the decision is made permanent, it would lead to higher premiums.

Schumer says the administration's action highlights the stakes for senators. Trump is announcing his pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday night.

He says, "Because President Trump has said repeatedly that he would nominate judges to overturn the ACA, the Supreme Court vacancy is only further putting health care front and center, raising the stakes for maintaining these vital health care protections."

___

1:55 p.m.

Former Sen. Jon Kyl will guide President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee through the Senate confirmation process.

White House spokesman Raj Shah says the Arizona Republican "has agreed to serve as the Sherpa for the President's nominee to the Supreme Court."

Kyl, a former member of Republican leadership, served on the Senate Judiciary Committee before retiring from the Senate in January 2013. He works for Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling.

The White House hopes Kyl's close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for Trump's eventual selection to win confirmation. Trump is set to announce his pick for the vacancy left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy at 9 p.m. Monday.

Former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte served as the 'sherpa' for Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

___

1:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has yet to announce his pick for Supreme Court, but Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — up for re-election — says he'll be opposed.

Casey says the list of judges Trump has used to find a Supreme Court nominee is the "fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp." He cites involvement of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in drafting the list.

The Democratic senator is up for re-election this year in a state Trump won in 2016. The race is not expected to be competitive.

Bob Salera, a campaign spokesman for Senate Republicans, said Casey has "given up any pretense of being a moderate voice" by opposing Trump's nominee sight unseen.

Casey says he is "pro-life," but regularly sides with supporters of abortion rights in Senate votes.

___

10:25 a.m.

The conservative Judicial Crisis Network is set to launch a $1.4 million ad buy on behalf of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Trump is expected to reveal his pick at 9 p.m. Monday. When the announcement is made, the campaign will kick off. It will feature cable and digital advertising in states including Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

The campaign will include a biographical ad about the nominee.

The group started advertising after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. The new ad brings their total investment to $2.4 million. They will also launch a website with information on the nominee

___

6 a.m.

President Donald Trump is going down to the wire as he makes his choice on a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. But he says with his final four options "you can't go wrong."

Trump spoke to reporters Sunday afternoon as he concluded a weekend in New Jersey spent deliberating his decision at his private golf club. Trump insisted he still hadn't locked down his decision, which he wants to keep under wraps until a 9 p.m. Monday announcement from the White House.

While Trump didn't name the four, top contenders for the role have included federal appeals judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman.

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