GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the number two Republican in the Senate, anticipates that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court will attract the support of the entire GOP caucus and a handful of Democrats.
Speaking Sunday to Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation,” Cornyn said Kavanaugh will likely command 53-54 “yes” votes, given his professional commonalities with Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed in 2017 54-45.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) July 15, 2018
“We saw three Democrats vote with all the Republicans for Neil Gorsuch,” the senator said. “I think we’ll see something in that range for Brett Kavanaugh.”
“I think it would be hard to explain why you voted to confirm Gorsuch and voted against Kavanaugh,” he added. “I would be interested in what the distinction would be in their mind that would cause a different outcome.”
The senator argued that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh presented identical qualifications at the time of their nomination. Both men served for a decade on federal appeals courts, graduated from elite schools, and taught law as adjunct professors.
Kavanaugh confirmation prospects lie with a handful of senators clustered toward the center of the ideological spectrum. The three Democrats Cornyn referred to — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — will each stand for reelection in states President Donald Trump carried comfortably in the 2016 election. All three lawmakers are branding as independent voices ahead of the November vote, and insist Democratic leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, will not influence their decision.
The trio of Democrats will likely take cues, however, from GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Alaska and Lisa Murkowski of Maine. Collins and Murkowski are pro-choice moderates who have broken from their party on ObamaCare repeal and Planned Parenthood funding. If either senator defects from the Republican caucus to oppose Kavanaugh, the pressure red state Democrats face to support the nominee will diminish significantly.
Progressive groups have launched an aggressive multi-platform advertising effort in Alaska and Maine, urging the senators to protect abortion access by opposing Supreme Court nominees who oppose the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.