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President's Supreme Court nomination impacts

NATIONAL (WCIA) -- Monday night, President Trump made an announcement which could change the future of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

He nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court justice. If confirmed, he would take over for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in some cases acted as a swing vote.

Kavanaugh has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. for 12 years. During that time, he's gained a track-record of siding with religious organizations over government and groups challenging them. But, President Trump said this nomination was based on who can set aside personal opinions to decide what is constitutional or not.

Brian Gaines, a political science expert at UI, explains what this nomination could mean for the future of the supreme court.

He says, "It's a relatively polarized court now. Anthony Kennedy was in the middle."

Now that Kennedy is retiring, it leaves an open seat for the next justice to step in. 

In the nomination speech President Trump says, "It is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy, the man he might be replacing. 

Kavanaugh said, "Mr. President I'm grateful to you and humbled by your support of me." 

While nobody can predict if President Trump's pick will be voted in, strategy does play a part. 

Gaines says, "The president and his advisors are thinking hard about who can win."

He also says the president's nomination will impact the court's future rulings, but first his nominee has to clear the Senate. Republicans need a majority of at least 51 votes for Kavanaugh to be confirmed. 

Gaines says, "There are enough Democrats that are in kind of toss-up races that I think it's unlikely all of them will vote against it, even though there's a lot of pressure from Democratic leaders." 

Before the vote happens, Kavanaugh will have to go through hearings where he'll answer questions by the Senate. 

Gaines says, "The nominees now are very well coached to say as little as possible, to give very guarded answers."

That's where some contention may come in.

"The complaints tend to be that the judges just won't say anything about what they would do if they're asked how would you vote on a case. On Roe v. Wade, they might say something about it being settled law but they're not going to make a promise one way or another."

The Senate will schedule the hearings within the next couple months. Gaines says it's likely they will conclude the hearings next month. After that, it will be put up for a vote. 

Some senators are criticizing President Trump for his nomination.

On Twitter, Senator Dick Durbin (D) denounced the decision saying, "Kavanaugh is a judge who consistently favors big business and undermines the protections for consumers, workers, women and the environment."

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) said this choice could jeopardize health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions or throw abortion rights into question. Other politicians also weighed in.

Congressman Rodney Davis (R) congratulated Kavanaugh on the nomination through a tweet saying, "He is an extremely qualified candidate who should be considered based on merit, not politics. I hope our senators will honor this and allow this confirmation process to move forward." 

JB Pritzker released a statement calling on Governo Bruce Rauner to "reject Trump's Supreme Court nominee."

He said, "Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court could upend the rights of communities across Illinois and considering that Bruce Rauner is in 'constant communication' with the White House, I call on this governor to oppose Brett Kavanaugh's nomination in full force." 

Senators Duckworth and Durbin will both vote to either accept or reject Kavanaugh's nomination. Despite their opinions, Pritzker, Rauner and Davis will not vote since only the Senate has an immediate say in the decision. 

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