The Note: Trump’s Supreme Court pick could rock political landscape

Trump picks Judge Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court vacant seat.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Now the chance to remake the Supreme Court for a generation becomes an opportunity for President Donald Trump to further rock the political landscape.

Questions for Brett Kavanaugh will hinge less on qualifications and even judicial ideology than they will on partisanship. His central-casting GOP resume gives him powerful friends, but also immense amounts of paper.

That includes extensive writings and rulings about executive power, including whether presidents should be subject to civil or criminal litigation at all. The questions Kavanaugh has long pondered, in and out of powerful government positions, are not hypotheticals.

The most intense immediate focus will be on two moderate Republicans, either of whom — in the absence of Sen. John McCain — could sink the nomination by herself. Yet, that could happen only if the new nominee loses all of the Democrats.

That's where well-funded outside pressure will be applied. That's also where Trump benefits from keeping intact the powerful conservative infrastructure around judgeships — one of the few establishment institutions he did not seek to blow up.

The weeks ahead will be about Kavanaugh, and about the causes and the president (yes, one named Bush) he once served.

But, as always in this era, the biggest questions are likely to revolve around Trump.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The country now has a name and also a sketch of some of the issues Judge Brett Kavanaugh could help decide next year, if confirmed.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments again beginning in October, and it is possible Kavanaugh could be confirmed by the Senate by then.

Here's some of what we know is on the docket:

There is a case about how far the federal government can go in designating private land as critical habitat for endangered species. Also, there's one on whether age discrimination in employment laws should apply to even small local municipal offices.

There's a case to determine if a state can execute a prisoner with certain mental disabilities, and one about whether some non-citizen immigrants, who have been convicted of a crime, can be detained without a bond hearing through their immigration proceedings.

Of course, the October list is far from exhaustive. The justices will add more cases for next year in the weeks and months ahead as lower courts continue to dole out rulings.

Most likely, the top court will take up high-profile issues related to abortion, environmental regulation, health care, religious freedom and immigration.

Still, the questions already on the table provide a clear reminder of the potential impact of this nomination.

The TIP with Mariam Khan

Three vulnerable red-state Democrats, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all of whom are up for re-election this November, were invited to the White House Monday evening for the president's Supreme Court announcement- and all declined.

All three are facing mounting pressure from Democrats to oppose Trump's nominee, but have previously signaled they're keeping an open mind and plan to carefully vet and consider the nominee before they come to a decision. They also supported Neil Gorsuch last year.

"Sen. Heitkamp … has made clear – as she said to the president in person two weeks ago — that she considers fully vetting Supreme Court nominees one of the most important jobs of any U.S. senator, and she plans to fulfill that critical duty," Heitkamp's office said in a statement to ABC News.

Donnelly said in a statement: "I declined so that I can meet first with the nominee in a setting where we can discuss his or her experience and perspectives. In the coming days, I will be reviewing the record and qualifications of the president's nominee."

Manchin echoed that, saying "we should debate his qualifications on the Senate floor and cast whatever vote we believe he deserves. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, examining his rulings and making a determination of whether to provide my consent."

Also on the invite list? Two moderate Republican women who are staunchly pro-abortion rights and could potentially help Democrats tank Trump's nomination.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were invited to the White House on Monday but they both declined.

Murkowski told reporters she planned to watch Trump's announcement on television, just like "everybody else."


  • President Trump and first lady Melania Trump head to Brussels, Belgium, for the NATO summit.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed at the NATO summit.
  • President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears at court for a status hearing.
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, holds a news conference on Capitol Hill to discuss the separation of immigrant children from their parents at noon, while a court-imposed deadline to reunite all immigrant children under 5 years old with their parents by Tuesday will likely not be met.

    "No President has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination." — Judge Brett Kavanaugh said after being nominated by President Donald Trump for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Monday.


    Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court. President Donald Trump has announced U.S. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second U.S. Supreme Court justice pick less than two years into his presidency. (Alexander Mallin)

    Trump's Supreme Court announcement triggers pricey ad war. "Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the best of the best. His life has been defined by hard work and excellence," the ad begins, praising Kavanaugh as a "star student at Yale Law," and ticking through his rise to become a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (John Verhovek)

    Kavanaugh faces an uphill confirmation fight in the Senate. With President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, all eyes are now on the Senate, where a fierce confirmation battle awaits. (Mariam Khan)

    Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court pick, is a conservative appeals court judge. At 53, Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could reasonably expect to serve on the Supreme Court well into the middle of the century. (Lucien Bruggeman)

    Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey expresses disapproval of Supreme Court nominee before final decision. Just hours before President Donald Trump will make his announcement of who will fill the vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. Bob Casey, D- Pa., has already expressed his disapproval of Trump's decision. (Karolina Rivas)

    What to know about NATO as Trump heads to Brussels. President Donald Trump is set to attend NATO meetings in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday with leaders of all 29 member nations, amid his harsh and frequent criticism of the alliance. (Elizabeth McLaughlin and Sarah Kolinovsky)

    Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page subpoenaed by House panel for private interview. The House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer who exchanged text messages with FBI agent Peter Strzok critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, to appear on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview Wednesday morning, according to congressional officials familiar with the subpoena. (Benjamin Siegel)

    Trump tweets confidence that Kim Jong Un will denuclearize, honor 'our handshake.' President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he's confident Kim Jong Un will honor their "contract" and handshake in Singapore to denuclearize, even as he suggested that China may be responsible for North Korea showing new hesitance to move forward on the goal. (Jordyn Phelps and Sarah Kolinovsky)

    Roughly half of separated children under 5 will not be reunited by court deadline. A court-imposed deadline to reunite immigrant children under five with their parents by July 10 will likely not be met. (Matthew Fuhrman)

    In face of security concerns, recent attacks, Pompeo claims progress in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Monday to see what progress has been made nearly one year after President Trump announced his new "South Asia strategy." (Conor Finnegan)

    Cohen's attorney fires back at Giuliani. Just one day after Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer said he had no concerns about Michael Cohen testifying before the special counsel as long as Cohen tells the truth, Michael Cohen's new attack dog is firing back. (Allison Pecorin)

    Missing Korean War soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elmore Goodwin, an American soldier listed as missing in the Korean War, was laid to rest Monday at Arlington National Cemetery after his remains were identified by the U.S. military. (Luis Martinez)

    For Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, this week's NATO summit presents a central test: how to preserve a U.S.-European alliance that he sees as crucial to America's security while not crossing a boss who doesn't share that view. The Washington Post reports.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.