New Mexico’s congressional delegation reacted along partisan lines Monday to President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump, in a live televised announcement from the White House East Room Monday, revealed Kavanaugh as his choice to fill the seat vacated by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee often seen as the deciding vote on a closely divided court.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a graduate of Yale Law School. He later clerked for Kennedy and was an aide to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr during Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton. He worked for George W. Bush’s campaign during the 2000 election recount, and later served in the Bush White House. Kavanaugh has been a judge on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006.
Though members of the U.S. House do not vote on Supreme Court nominees, all three of New Mexico’s representatives weighed on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, whose district includes Roswell and is his party’s candidate for governor in November, said in a press release Tuesday, Kavanaugh has a long record of legal accomplishment.
“It is my belief that Supreme Court Justices should adhere to the Constitution in preserving our liberties as American citizens,” Pearce said in the release. “I look forward to the confirmation hearings and it is my hope that the confirmation process will reveal Brett Kavanaugh to be a highly qualified Justice committed to preserving our freedoms as set forth in the Constitution.”
New Mexico’s other two members of the U.S. House, both Democrats, criticized the nomination.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-NM and Pearce’s general election opponent in the race for governor, said in a press release Tuesday she opposes the nomination of Kavanaugh.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s reactionary judicial record threatens decades of progress for a woman’s right to make their own health decisions, LGBTQ rights, civil rights and Americans’ access to health care,” Lujan Grisham said in the release.
“I urge the Senate to defeat his nomination and protect our Constitution, the rights of women, minorities, working families and the LGBTQ community,” she added.
“Justice Kennedy’s retirement has presented hardline conservatives with the opportunity to erase a generation of progress,” Rep. Ben Ray Lajun, R-NM, said in a post on his congressional Facebook page. “With the selection of Judge Kavanaugh, health care, marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights are all at stake.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination will go to the Senate for approval. Republicans hold a slim 50-49 majority with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., absent as he battles brain cancer.
Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, said in a press release McConnell made a mockery of the advise and consent process and Trump “has farmed out the selection of his Supreme Court nominee to far-right interest groups.”
“The result is that the majority of the country is being left with no voice on an appointment that could span decades and reshape the court as we know it,” Udall said in the release. “Instead of doing the bidding of the most extreme special interests and playing to his base, the president should have lived up to the responsibilities of his office and nominated a mainstream justice who would represent the views of the majority of Americans — even those who may have voted against the president.”
Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a press release he refuses to legitimize what he says a broken system McConnell created on Trump’s behalf.
“We need to remedy both the political obstruction and broken rules that have led us into this terrible mess before confirming any more nominees that will be tainted by it,” Heinrich said.
“Given the divisive climate in Washington, an independent judiciary is more important than ever and fundamental to the health of our democracy. That is why any nomination to our courts should require input from both parties and represent the kind of consensus that can see us through these turbulent political times,” Heinrich said in the release.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich, who hopes to unseat Heinrich in November, praised Trump’s choice.
“President Trump has a strong track record of appointing federal judges that fairly and impartially apply our Constitution and our laws,” Rich said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to the president’s nomination to fill the new vacancy on our nation’s highest court. I hope that New Mexico’s senators will then act swiftly to fulfill their constitutional duty and act in good faith on the president’s nomination.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.