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McConnell Declares Kavanaugh 'Superb'; Schumer Says Pick Is Meant to 'Punish Women'

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at Senate Agriculture Committee

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised as "superb" President Trump's selection of federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, while Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) prepared for a Tuesday morning protest on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old former law clerk for Kennedy, also teaches at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown. His wife, Ashley Estes, was President George W. Bush's personal secretary. They have two daughters and are active in D.C.'s Catholic community, including volunteering with Catholic Charities and tutoring at Washington Jesuit Academy.

"Judge Kavanaugh has sterling academic credentials. He is widely admired for his intellect, experience, and exemplary judicial temperament. He has won the respect of his peers and is highly regarded throughout the legal community," McConnell said. "And his judicial record demonstrates a firm understanding of the role of a judge in our Republic: Setting aside personal views and political preferences in order to interpret our laws as they are written."

He added that "this is an opportunity for senators to put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command.”

Schumer declared that the nomination of Kavanaugh "has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block."

"With this pick, the president is making good on his pledge to ‘punish’ women for their choices. Judge Kavanaugh got the nomination because he passed this litmus test, not because he’ll be an impartial judge on behalf of all Americans. If he were to be confirmed, women’s reproductive rights would be in the hands of five men on the Supreme Court," he said.

Schumer vowed to "oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same -- the stakes are simply too high for anything less." He predicted that if opponents could muster up the votes for a block, "it could lead to a more independent, moderate selection that both parties could support.”

"I’m calling on Americans from all walks of life to make their voices heard from now until the end of this battle," he said.

Tuesday's rally outside the Supreme Court will include Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats

Judiciary Committee Chariman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called Kavanaugh "one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees to come before the Senate."

"His credentials are well known, and he’s served with distinction as a judge on the esteemed D.C. Circuit for more than a decade. He is a superb mainstream candidate worthy of the Senate’s consideration,” Grassley said. “As we have always done when reviewing nominees for lifetime-appointed judgeships, the Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct a fair and comprehensive evaluation of the nominee’s background and qualifications followed by hearings where we’ll hear directly from the nominee as we fulfill our advice and consent responsibility.”