After President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night, one of Montana’s U.S. senators praised the judge's experience while the other urged a thorough vetting process.
Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines was at the White House for the announcement.
“As a U.S. senator, confirming a Supreme Court justice is one of the most consequential votes I will take,” Daines said in a video statement. “Brett Kavanaugh has an impressive background and excellent experience. I look forward to meeting with the nominee and reviewing their judicial record to ensure we are putting the most qualified justice on the highest court to defend the U.S. Constitution.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, called for the Senate to look closely at Kavanaugh’s record.
“I take my constitutional duty to screen the president’s nominees very seriously, and in the coming weeks I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh,” Tester said. “Montanans have a lot on the line with this next Supreme Court justice, so I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put politics aside and do what’s best for this nation.”
There are 51 Republicans in the U.S. Senate, enough to confirm Kavanaugh without Democratic support, even with Sen. John McCain of Arizona absent as he battles brain cancer. Democrats are trying to pressure Republicans Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to oppose any nominee who threatens the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. The two have supported access to abortion services in the past.
Kavanaugh’s stance on Roe is also expected to be a part of Tester’s decision. Tester supports a woman’s right to access an abortion and cited that as a reason he opposed Trump’s first nominee to the court, Neil Gorsuch.
"With Judge Gorsuch on the bench, I am deeply concerned … the court will stand between women and their doctors," Tester wrote in a post on Medium in 2017. Daines voted to confirm Gorsuch.
Three Democrats running for re-election in states that voted for Trump in 2016 joined Republicans in voting to confirm Gorsuch, including Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota; Joe Manchin, of West Virginia; and Joe Donnelly, of Indiana.
While Kavanaugh has said in the past he views Roe as settled precedent, that was during his confirmation hearing to a circuit court, which must follow Supreme Court decisions as settled law. Trump vowed during his campaign to nominate justices who would overturn Roe.
Some Senate Democrats have already come out against Kavanaugh. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday to say he'll oppose Kavanaugh with "everything I've got." Schumer said he believes Kavanaugh's appointment could end Roe v. Wade and undo the Affordable Care Act.
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania who is up for re-election this year in a state Trump won in 2016 by a narrow margin, came out against the president’s nominee even before Kavanaugh was named.
"I will oppose the nomination the president will make tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far right, big corporations and Washington special interests," Casey tweeted Monday morning.
State Auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican running against Tester this fall, released a statement late Monday night praising Trump for picking Kavanaugh.
"President Trump is absolutely right — Brett Kavanaugh is one of the most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court, with a proven record of upholding our Constitution and following the rule of law," Rosendale said before turning his sights toward Tester.
"Jon Tester now has to decide; does he side with the far left in Washington or with Montana? I'm a straight shooter, I’ll stand with the people of Montana and President Trump to support Kavanaugh’s nomination because there is no doubt that he will defend our Constitution and protect our Montana way of life."
Montana’s U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, said Monday evening he supported Kavanaugh and the Senate should move quickly to confirm him. Gianforte is running for re-election against Democrat Kathleen Williams, a former state lawmaker from Bozeman.
“President Trump has again nominated a constitutional conservative who will interpret our laws, not make laws from the bench. Given his background and record, I am confident Judge Kavanaugh will make an extraordinary justice who will adhere to America’s constitutional principles and protect our freedoms,” Gianforte said. “The Senate should quickly confirm President Trump’s well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court.”
Williams said the Senate should carefully examine Kavanaugh.
"I hope the Senate will take the time to adequately vet this nominee. Rep. Gianforte has shown he won't stand up for women's rights to make their own health care decisions. Montana women do not want Washington politicians coming between them and their doctor. In Congress, I will fight for Montana women and their right to make their own health care decisions."