WASHINGTON (CNN) – Brett Kavanaugh is facing the confirmation of a lifetime. President Donald Trump announced he is nominating the DC Appeals Court judge to the Supreme Court bench Monday night, two weeks after Justice Anthony Kennedy said he would retire.
Whether Kavanaugh is successfully confirmed now becomes a question of Senate math. Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the chamber. With Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain at home fighting cancer since December, that means Republicans can’t lose another vote assuming all Democrats oppose his nomination.
And ahead of the midterms, all eyes are on the 10 Democrats running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016. Three of them — North Dakota’s Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana’s Sen. Joe Donnelly and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — voted for Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, last year and face re-election in 2018.
Democrats are also watching Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who have expressed concerns among other issues about any action to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling.
In the initial hours after the announcement was made public, many senators from both parties are deferring on making a judgment until they can better examine Kavanaugh’s extensive record in Washington or have time for a one-on-one meeting or have a chance to question him publicly at his as-of-yet unscheduled confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some senators aren’t saying anything at all. Expect that to change in the coming weeks.
For those who have already weighed in, here’s the latest look at what senators have said on Kavanaugh’s nomination and how they will vote:
Undecided red-state Democrats
Bill Nelson of Florida — “I look forward to meeting with the President’s nominee in the coming weeks to discuss his views on several important issues such as protecting women’s rights, guaranteeing access to health care for those with pre-existing conditions and protecting the right to vote, just to name a few. I will make my decision after that.”
Jon Tester of Montana — “I take my constitutional duty to screen the President’s nominees very seriously, and in the coming weeks I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh. Montanans have a lot on the line with this next Supreme Court Justice so I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put politics aside and do what’s best for this nation.”
Joe Donnelly of Indiana — “As I have said, part of my job as senator includes thoroughly considering judicial nominations, including to the Supreme Court. I will take the same approach as I have previously for a Supreme Court vacancy. Following the president’s announcement, I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”
Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire — “I will only support Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination if he protects the civil rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.”
Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada — “I plan to meet with Judge Kavanaugh in the coming months and will review his qualifications thoroughly.”
Patrick Leahy of Vermont — “Based on an initial review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record, we are right to be concerned … He must not evade fundamental questions that judicial nominees have answered for decades until recently. He needs to explain why we should believe he would be a justice for all Americans, independent of the President and the ideologically driven interest groups that selected him.”
Chris Coons of Delaware — “I will meet with Judge Kavanaugh, thoroughly review his extensive record, and ask him direct, hard questions in both public and private settings. I will also do my best to make as clear as possible to the people of Delaware and the nation as a whole what it would mean to have Judge Kavanaugh on the highest court in the land.”
Tammy Duckworth of Illinois — “Whoever replaces Justice Kennedy will play a critical role in the lives of all women and every single American. Moving forward, I will thoroughly review Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings, evaluate his qualifications and look for him to make it clear to the American public that he would be independent, not simply a rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s whims, if he hopes to earn my support.”
Dianne Feinstein of California — “His views are far outside the legal mainstream when it comes to access to health care, executive power, gun safety, worker protections, women’s reproductive freedom, and the government’s ability to ensure clean air and water, to name a few. … We need a nominee who understands that the court is there to protect the rights of all Americans, not just political interest groups and the powerful.”
Brian Schatz of Hawaii — “I will continue to study Judge Kavanaugh’s record and follow his hearing closely, but I have grave reservations about this nominee.”
Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin — “After reviewing this nominee’s record, I know why powerful special interests in Washington selected Judge Brett Kavanaugh to work on the Supreme Court for them, not the people of Wisconsin,” she said in the statement. “The people of Wisconsin need a fair, impartial and independent Supreme Court Justice who will stand up for them, not for powerful special interests. I don’t have confidence that Judge Kavanaugh would be that justice.”
Bernie Sanders of Vermont — “I do not believe a person with those views should be given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. We must mobilize the American people to defeat Trump’s right-wing, reactionary nominee.”
Chuck Schumer of New York — “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same. The stakes are simply too high for anything less.”
Kamala Harris of California — “Judge Brett Kavanaugh represents a direct and fundamental threat to that promise of equality and so I will oppose his nomination to the Supreme Court.”
Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — “I will be a ‘no’ vote on this nominee. Judge Kavanaugh’s record and writings — which I have reviewed — signal an extreme hostility to the precious rights and liberties that make our nation great.”
Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — “I will oppose the nomination the President will makes tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far Right, big corporations, and Washington special interests.”
Patty Murray of Washington — “I voted against Judge Kavanaugh when he was nominated for the circuit court and I strongly oppose this nomination now. I will be urging my colleagues to stand with me in rejecting him, and in calling on President Trump to send us someone who would stand with women, workers, and families, and who would truly commit to respecting settled law and the rights and freedoms we hold so dear. And I will be urging people across the country to stand up, speak out, and make their voices heard.”
Undecided Republicans to watch
Susan Collins of Maine — “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.”
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — “While I have not met Judge Kavanaugh, I look forward to sitting down for a personal meeting with him. I intend to review Judge Kavanaugh’s decisions on the bench and writings off the bench, and pay careful attention to his responses to questions posed by my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
What other Republicans have said so far
Jeff Flake of Arizona — “As I have said before, approving a nominee who will interpret the Constitution rather than legislate from the bench should be our top priority. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and reviewing his record throughout the confirmation process.”
Rob Portman of Ohio — “He is highly regarded as a fair-minded and independent judge and is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. I look forward to meeting with him in the coming weeks as he goes through a fair and thorough evaluation process.”
Ben Sasse of Nebraska — “Brett Kavanaugh is a serious jurist known for careful deliberation. This doesn’t matter to many on the left. Sadly, the #Resistance is going to try to bork him by portraying him as a cross between Lex Luthor and Darth Vader. This isn’t the apocalypse — this is an opportunity to thoroughly review Kavanaugh’s record, debate this seriously, and celebrate our system of checks, balances, and limited government.”
John Cornyn of Texas — “As the Senate begins what will be a thorough review of his record, it’s disappointing that some Democrats already rejected this nomination before it was even made. I hope Democrats will consider Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination on the merits, and I look forward to meeting with him soon in advance of a hearing.”
John Thune of South Dakota — “I commend President Trump for his selection of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial career has demonstrated his commitment to impartiality and faithful application of the Constitution. I look forward to sitting down with Judge Kavanaugh as we go through the confirmation process.”
Marco Rubio of Florida — “Brett Kavanaugh is a qualified, mainstream jurist who possesses the right temperament and experience for the position, and I’m pleased to see his nomination to serve on the US Supreme Court.”
Johnny Isakson of Georgia — “I congratulate Judge Kavanaugh, who is a talented and experienced jurist, on his nomination to our nation’s highest court. I firmly believe that justices who understand and apply the law based on the US Constitution, and not on their own personal political views, should fill seats on our Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates that he shares a strong commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. I look forward to meeting with him soon and working with my Senate colleagues and the administration during the confirmation process to ensure that this highly qualified candidate is voted on by the Senate in time for the Court’s next session.”
Todd Young of Indiana — “Judge Kavanaugh is a well-respected judge with a strong record of honoring the Constitution and upholding the rule of law. I look forward to conducting a thorough and objective review of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination over the coming weeks, and I am hopeful that my colleagues will give him the same courtesy.”
Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — “A Supreme Court justice ought to be a judge, not a superlegislator — applying the Constitution as written, not altering it as a result. President Trump nominated a person who fit that description in Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, and to my understanding Judge Brett Kavanaugh fits it as well. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and the Senate moving expeditiously through the confirmation process.”
Dan Sullivan of Alaska — “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Judge Brett Kavanaugh for some time — dating back to when we worked together in the Bush administration. He is very well regarded as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most important court in the country.”
Richard Shelby of Alabama — “.@POTUS’s #SCOTUSPick is an excellent choice. Judge Brett Kavanaugh has impressive credentials, and I look forward to meeting with him to further consider his qualifications & commitment to upholding our Constitution as it is written.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi — “Judge Kavanaugh is a well-qualified conservative jurist, and I commend President Trump for his commitment to naming Supreme Court justices who are committed to the rule of law.”
Richard Burr of North Carolina — “In nominating Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Trump has put forth a highly qualified and respected candidate committed to the rule of law. Judge Kavanaugh’s credentials are impeccable, and as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit he has considered many of the most pressing legal questions of our time.”
John Hoeven of North Dakota — “Judge Kavanaugh’s record shows a deep respect for and strict interpretation of the Constitution. Throughout his judicial career, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a strong commitment to upholding the law, rather than legislating from the bench.”
Ted Cruz of Texas — “By any measure, Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most respected federal judges in the country and I look forward to supporting his nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — “I’m a big fan, let’s put it that way.”
This story will be updated with additional developments.