WASHINGTON — When Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh heads into confirmation hearings, it will be relatively familiar territory.
President Donald Trump on Monday night tapped Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh went though a tough hearing a dozen years ago after President George W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Senators in 2006 voted 57-36 to confirm Kavanaugh, who also won the support of four Democrats, including then-Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Landrieu is gone from the Senate — defeated by GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy in 2014 — and so are two of the other Democrats who backed him 12 years ago: conservative Sen. Ben Nelson, of Nebraska, and old-line Southern Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, of West Virginia.
Landrieu declined comment Tuesday on her 2006 vote for Kavanaugh.
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority, though it isn't a given that every GOP senator will support him. A handful of Republicans are going to be lobbied to turn against their party and derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, especially pro-choice Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
If Kavanaugh wins any Democratic support, it would likely come from senators in similar positions to Landrieu, Nelson and Byrd, centrist or conservative Democrats from red-leaning states. Politicians like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia — who now holds the late Byrd’s seat — are likely to face considerable pressure to back Trump’s pick.
Manchin and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, both voted to confirm Trump pick Amy Coney Barrett — a Metairie native and finalist for the Supreme Court job — to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Both Manchin and Donnelly are running for re-election this fall in states Trump won by substantial margins.
Delaware Sen. Tom Carper is the only Democrat who voted for Kavanaugh in 2006 who’s still in office. Carper hasn’t announced how he’ll vote on Kavanaugh but has suggested he’s unlikely to support him this time around. Carper called Kavanaugh's record on the federal bench “a profound disappointment” and challenged Republicans to “bring on the fight.”
If confirmed, Kavanaugh would replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan nominee who’s served as a moderate swing vote on the ideologically divided court.