GOP rallies around Kavanaugh as Supreme Court pick

GOP rallies around Kavanaugh as Supreme Court pick
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Republican leaders and lawmakers on Monday night were quick to rally around President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE's decision to nominate federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

GOP senators and other conservatives praised Kavanaugh's academic credentials and judicial track record and expressed optimism that he'd be promptly confirmed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress GOP to White House: End summit mystery Sunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ky.), who reportedly warned Trump that other Supreme Court finalists would be easier to confirm than Kavanaugh, touted the judge's "intellect, experience, and exemplary judicial temperament."

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"He has won the respect of his peers and is highly regarded throughout the legal community. And his judicial record demonstrates a firm understanding of the role of a judge in our Republic: Setting aside personal views and political preferences in order to interpret our laws as they are written," McConnell said in a statement.

"This is an opportunity for Senators to put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command,” he added.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress Interior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE (R-Wis.) called Kavanaugh an "excellent choice," and highlighted the judge's commitment to religious liberty.

"He has shown that Constitutional principles are the ultimate guide for his opinions. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s swift confirmation in the Senate," Ryan said in a statement.

Trump tapped Kavanaugh, 53, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of the month. Prior to serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh worked under former President George W. Bush, as well as for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated former President Clinton in the 1990s.

Bush praised the nomination as well, saying in a statement that that his former aide "will make a superb Justice."

"Brett is a brilliant jurist who has faithfully applied the Constitution and laws throughout his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit," Bush said. "He is a fine husband, father, and friend — and a man of the highest integrity."

Kavanaugh's nomination is likely to set off a bitter fight in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 edge. With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Summit fallout hits White House Graham: Biggest problem is Trump ‘believes meddling equals collusion’ Obama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena MORE (R-Ariz.) at home recovering from cancer treatment, the GOP can't afford any defections unless a Democrat votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

Some Republicans were quick to call out Democrats for their expected opposition to Trump's pick.

"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," Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseChristine Todd Whitman: Trump should step down over Putin press conference GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki GOP senator: Senate should be 'disgusted' by Helsinki summit MORE (R-Neb.) said in a statement.

"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," he added.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Helsinki summit becomes new flashpoint for GOP anger Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash MORE (R-S.D.), the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, encouraged Democrats to “carefully review the qualification of this nominee instead of trying to solicit his opinions on political issues.”

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE MORE (R-Utah), who spoke with Trump last week about the court vacancy and was on the president's list of 25 potential nominees, praised Kavanaugh as a "smart and fair judge."

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Overnight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts MORE (R-Maine), a centrist whom Democrats are expected to court to oppose Kavanaugh, said in a statement following his nomination that she will “conduct a careful, thorough vetting.” 

“I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office," Collins said in a statement.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia GOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia Rand Paul blocks Sanders's Russia resolution, calls it 'crazy hatred' against Trump MORE (R-Ky.), who declined an invitation to attend Trump's announcement Monday night, tweeted that he will meet with Kavanaugh "with an open mind."