President Donald Trump edges closer to victory in his confirmation battle to appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s resignation in late June.
President Trump won a crucial victory from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who previously had his reservations regarding the appointee due to Kavanaugh’s stances on privacy. Paul has recently come out in public support of the nominee, guaranteeing a more solid block who will support Kavanaugh in the confirmation vote.
“My conversation with Judge Kavanaugh reinforces my belief that he will evaluate cases before the Supreme Court from a textual and originalist point of view,” Paul said.
President Trump expressed his gratitude in receiving Paul’s support, tweeting, “Thank you to @RandPaul for your YES on a future great Justice of the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. Your vote means a lot to me, and to everyone who loves our Country!”
With Paul’s support of Kavanaugh, Democrats’ path to defeat the confirmation has become all the more narrow. Republicans need a simple majority to confirm Kavanaugh following Majority Leader Mitch McConell’s 2017 “nuclear option” tactic to change Senate rules to reduce the number of votes needed to confirm an appointee to the high court.
In order to block Kavanaugh’s nomination, all 49 Democrats in the senate will need to vote against it, and they will have to convince at least one Republican to join them in the opposition.
As is stands, the only Republicans whose confirmation vote of Kavanaugh remains unclear are Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
In a bigger blow to Democrats, however, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) crossed party lines on Monday and became the first Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh. As senator of a Republican-heavy state, he risks losing his seat by blocking Kavanaugh.
While Manchin’s office has said that the senator has not yet made up his mind, photos released have shown the two shaking hands and smiling.
“Over the last two weeks, West Virginians have contacted me more than 8,000 times with their opinions on Judge Kavanaugh and the questions they have for him, and when I met with him today, I asked him several of their questions,” Mr. Manchin said in a statement after meeting with the judge.
“I look forward to attending his confirmation hearing, meeting with him again and continuing to talk to West Virginians throughout this process,” he said.
Understandably, Manchin has a tough decision to make, either upsetting a state where 46 percent of the 2016 presidential vote went to President Trump, or angering Democratic leadership.
For Democrats, Manchin’s decision will be a lose-lose. And for Republicans it’s a win-win.