Sen. Rand Paul said Monday he will support President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court — seemingly eliminating one of the Republicans most likely to join Democrats in blocking the appointment.
Paul, R-Ky., said he made the decision despite some disagreement about his record on the government’s collection of bulk phone data without a warrant after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Earlier this month, Trump nominated Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Kennedy, who was often a swing vote, is retiring at the end of July.
“After meeting Judge Kavanaugh and reviewing his record, I have decided to support his nomination,” Paul said in the statement posted on Twitter. “No one will ever completely agree with a nominee (unless of course, you are the nominee). Each nominee however, must be judged on the totality of their views character and opinions.”
“I believe he will carefully adhere to the Constitution and will take his job to protect individual liberty seriously.”
Paul was considered a potential swing vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Now that he’s siding with Trump, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are being watched as the most likely remaining swing votes.
Republicans have a 51-49 advantage, but Republican Sen. John McCain’s absence may cut the majority to 50.
Further, Murkowski and Collins support abortion rights and Kavanaugh has been seen by abortion supporters as a potential fifth vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Republican leaders hope to have a quick confirmation by this fall.
Kavanaugh was set to meet later Monday with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, one of the few Democratic senators who may cross the aisle to support Trump’s nominee. He’s one of three Democrats who voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. The other two were Joe Donnelly, Ind., and Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.
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