Last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch, another relatively young nominee, was successfully added to the bench.
Kavanaugh, a Catholic, was careful to make himself sound open-minded, reasonable, and apolitical, although, as Quartz's Heather Timmons noted, he's "played a role in several of the most important partisan battles in USA politics over the past 20 years". Bernie Sanders (Vt.) seized on other aspects of Kavanaugh's record beyond abortion rights and health care, pointing to his potential hostility to other liberal priorities as well as his expansive views on presidential power.
"He is a terrific judge", said Kate Stith, Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law.
Combined with other sections of the dissent, Jacobs said Kavanaugh gave the "road map" for the Obama administration's legality argument and Roberts's decision. "I suppose there could be a battle over whether Mueller's appointment was legal", said Josh Chafetz, a professor at Cornell Law School.
The White House and Republican party want the nomination in the bag before November's mid-term elections.
Top contenders had included federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative policy advocacy group backed by the influential Koch network, has planned a seven-figure ad campaign to support Kavanaugh, as it did a year ago on behalf of Gorsuch, as well as mounting a grassroots campaign in Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia. But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions.
Senate Democrats have few options to derail Kavanaugh's nomination, but some will join activists in making the case to the American people that Kavanaugh's confirmation could shield Trump from civil lawsuits and criminal investigation.
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In the dissent, Kavanaugh said the mandate was "a law that is unprecedented on the federal level in American history" and called the penalty for people not buying insurance "jarring".
If Collins and Murkowski vote "no" and Democrats all vote "no", the nomination would be blocked.
"I have no doubt that many members of Congress and outside groups will announce how they stand on the nominee before doing their due diligence and instead just take a partisan stance - but that isn't how I work", Heitkamp said.
President Donald Trump speaks while nominating Brett Kavanaugh, as Kavanaugh's wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, and daughters Margaret and Liza look on during a ceremony in the White House in Washington, July 9, 2018.
Other Trump-state Democrats on the fence include Sens. A majority of 51 votes is needed for a confirmation. The two have supported access to abortion services.
Trump vowed during the campaign to appoint justices who would vote to overturn Roe, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and his appointment to replace Kennedy could make that a reality.
Kennedy's replacement also could be more willing to allow states to carry out executions and could support undoing earlier court holdings in the areas of racial discrimination in housing and the workplace. Before he was nominated to the D.C. circuit by George W. Bush, he was the former president's staff secretary and worked for Bush during the 2000 Florida vote recount.
Alabamians will be hearing a lot about Kavanaugh in the coming days. He served for two years as Senior Associate Counsel and Associate Counsel to the President. But in a 2017 case involving a teen in immigration custody who was seeking an abortion, he wrote the dissenting opinion that would have given the government more say. An hour after her original tweet, she hit the Twitterverse again confirming that she was alive and well and ready to broadcast from the "safety" of the studio at 11pm - phew.
"We'll do well to remember that we are evaluating a judge, not debating a candidate for political office", McConnell said, noting that several Democrats had signaled their opposition to Trump's pick before the nomination was made public.
While the president has been pondering his choice, his aides have been preparing for what is expected to be a tough confirmation fight.