President Trump has confirmed that his nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court will be 53-year-old appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, the long-reputed frontrunner. The White House managed to keep Trump’s pick a secret until roughly 8 minutes before the President’s planned announcement, when NBC News confirmed that Kavanaugh had clinched the nomination..
As Axios explains, “Republicans have a narrower margin for error than they did when the Senate confirmed Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch by a vote of 54-45 in April 207.”
Thanks to Doug Jones, the Democrat who defeated Roy Moore to win Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat late last year, Trump will likely need the unanimous support of the entire Republican caucus if Sen. John McCain, who has been away from Washington since December as he battles brain cancer, doesn’t show up to vote.
Assuming McCain misses the vote (which is widely expected) Republicans will be left with a 50-49 margin (factoring in the fact that two independents in the Senate typically caucus with the Democrats). That means either Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska could end up being the swing vote. Both have hinted that they might balk at a nominee who would vote to overturn Roe. v. Wade.