The future of America’s abortion law is on the line as a ferocious battle looms over Donald Trump’s latest nominee to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Democrats vowed to do everything in their power over the next few months to block the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative judge, to the country’s highest judicial body, while Republicans said they would "lift heaven and Earth" to have him confirmed.
Politicians on both sides began rallying supporters, and millions of dollars were set to be spent on advertisements, as Judge Kavanaugh was expected to become a focal point in the mid-term Congressional elections in November.
The judge has to be confirmed in the US Senate where Republicans currently have a razor-thin 51-49 majority.
He would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy who acted as a swing vote between the four conservatives and four liberals on the court, siding with liberals on a number of social issues including abortion.
Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation could lead in the next few years to an overturning of Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling of 1973 that established a constitutional right to abortion across the US. If overturned that would allow individual states to impose tight restrictions on abortion.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said: "I have great hope that now there may be five judges to allow states to enact their own policies into law on the abortion issue."
Dana Singiser, spokeswoman for the pro-choice Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: "There’s no way to sugarcoat it, with this nomination, the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion in this country is on the line."
At 53, Judge Kavanaugh could sit on the court for decades, shifting it to the right on other issues too, including gun rights, campaign financing, deregulation, and the rolling back of Obamacare.
He has not publicly stated that he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, last October, while sitting on the Appeals Court in Washington, he voted against other judges who permitted a teenage illegal immigrant in US custody to have an abortion.
Judge Kavanaugh, who is Catholic, was unveiled as the nominee live on television by Mr Trump following an Apprentice-style selection procedure.
Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the judge said: "I will keep an open mind in every case. I will tell each senator that I revere the Constitution."
Mr Trump praised him as a "judge’s judge" and "a brilliant jurist".
The president said he had not discussed Roe v. Wade with his choice. He said: "No, I haven’t. I really haven’t. In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions."
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, called Judge Kavanaugh "a superb choice".
Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader in the Senate, said the nomination put Roe v. Wade and Obamacare "on the judicial chopping block" and he would "oppose this nominee with everything that I’ve got".
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