While many high-profile national issues have taken the spotlight since President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his pick to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, any shift in the makeup of the nation's high court also will have an impact that trickles down to the Louisiana Legislature.
Sports betting, internet sales taxes, teachers union dues and redistricting are just a few of the decisions that state-level political watchers have had their eyes on in the past year.
Louisiana narrowly missed out on an opportunity to decide whether to legalize betting on sports, as the court ruling allowing states to legalize the form of gambling, came down near the end of the regular session.
Weeks later, a court decision on internet sales tax collections nearly derailed a special session as lawmakers hoped for a windfall before discovering that the state may need to beef up its framework before it will see an influx in tax revenues.
Another recent decision has prompted questions about the potential impact it will have on influence wielded by the Louisiana Association of Educators and Louisiana Federation of Teachers.
And redistricting cases from several states have shifted eyes toward how the state will move forward with the next big redrawing of political maps here in 2022.
Kavanaugh, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is generally seen as a solid conservative pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who has emerged as a swing vote on key contentious decisions, potentially tipping the high court in favor of conservatives.
State Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, said during a luncheon in Baton Rouge on Tuesday that she hopes a more conservative high court will lead to a more conservative Louisiana Legislature.
"(Republicans) have had a majority in the state Legislature for a long time and most of the time we don't feel like it," she said. "People are tired of inaction, of us taking baby steps when we should be taking giant leaps."
She cited what she saw as a sometimes tepid embrace of an effort to outlaw abortion in Louisiana after 15-weeks during the most recent regular legislative session. The Legislature ultimately passed the stricter law, but only after it was linked to Mississippi's law to try to prevent a court battle.
Mizell said she would like to see the Legislature "do more to get more good cases out there" to test the judiciary.
"The potential is there for ground-shaking changes," she said. "As a legislator, I look forward to an opportunity to enact things."
"We've got to take advantage of the opportunity," she added.
In the days since Trump's prime-time televised announcement, abortion has emerged as the biggest issue that has divided people over his nominee, as Republicans and Democrats wait to see whether the next Supreme Court justice becomes the deciding vote in an effort to reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that has allowed legal abortion in all 50 states.
Benjamin Clapper, executive director of the anti-abortion Louisiana Right to Life, lauded the announcement of Kavanaugh as Trump's pick.
"Clearly shown by his extensive experience, we believe Judge Kavanaugh will be a justice who will respect the wisdom of the original text of the U.S. Constitution," he said in a statement. "Instead of implementing his own opinions and preference, Judge Kavanaugh will give deference to the will of a legislature to protect human lives and ensure the health and safety of women."
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh, a politically connected conservative judge, for the Supreme Court Monday, sett…
Lift Louisiana, a New Orleans-based group that advocates on behalf of reproductive rights, sounded alarms.
“It is alarming to think that Louisiana women will not be able to rely on the protection of the Supreme Court to uphold our rights,” Lift Louisiana executive director Michelle Erenberg said in a statement.
James Stoner, a political science professor at LSU, said that although abortion is among the most pressing issues under consideration with the latest nominee, the life-time nature of Supreme Court appointments means other issues could ultimately come to the forefront.
"It's generally understood that in many eras in history -- the issues that divide the parties at the time of an appointment are not the issues that remain salient down the road," Stoner said.
That's where issues like taxes, gambling and other unexpected suits come into play.
"The issues as they come to court are not always predictable," he said.
Both of Louisiana's Republican U.S. Senators who will vote whether or not to confirm Kavanaugh gave the nominee high marks upon initial impressions. It's unclear how long the confirmation process could take.
"President Trump kept his promise, nominating a conservative faithful to the Constitution as written, recognized as having an excellent legal mind," U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, the senior senator from Baton Rouge, said after attending the nomination announcement. "Based on his resume, his reputation, I suspect he’ll be confirmed.”
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, a Madisonville Republican who serves on the Judiciary Committee that will vet Kavanaugh, said he'll be looking to learn more about how Kavanaugh interprets the constitution.
"Judge Kavanaugh is obviously well-educated and has an impressive resume, but I look forward to getting to know him better throughout the confirmation process," he said in a statement Monday. "I want someone who's smart, intellectually curious and willing to test their assumptions against the arguments of those who disagree with them."
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has not yet said his opinion on the nominee and his office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Stephen Handwerk, director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said the state party has concerns about the nomination.
"Suffice to say we are extremely troubled that Kavanaugh is the nominee when he is the one who has argued that a president shouldn't be bothered with investigations, criminal or otherwise, while he is in office," Handwerk said. "Considering this very question will be before this court, this should be a grave concern to all of us and in fact should be disqualifying."
At a meeting of the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish just hours after Trump's announcement, some members were concerned that Kavanaugh may not be conservative enough.
Some pointed to Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by Republican George W. Bush but cast the deciding vote to uphold Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
"I can't explain that," Southern University professor Michelle Ghetti said, but she noted that Roberts took a different interpretation and bluntly defined Obamacare as a tax hike.
"He came in with being concerned about the reputation of the court," she said, adding that Kavanaugh may carry those same concerns.
Though he was nominated by a Republican, Kennedy emerged as a swing vote on divided cases, including a 1992 ruling that upheld Roe.
Catherine Newsome, president of the Baton Rouge chapter of the conservative Federalist Society lawyers group and a member of the board of directors of the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society, said she hopes that Trump, who leaned heavily on advice from national Federalist Society leaders, thoroughly vetted Kavanaugh.
"When President Reagan nominated Justice Kennedy, I don't think he anticipated that Justice Kennedy would become the swing vote," she said. "I'm hoping what we get from this diligent process is someone who ends up being an ultra constitutionalist."
"He has said that he believes in the Constitution and he will interpret the law in light of the constitution, history, tradition and precedent," Newsome said. "We'll just have to see what cases come before the court."