US abortion laws on the line in row over new top judge
The future of America's abortion law is on the line as a ferocious battle looms over Donald Trump's latest nominee to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Democrats vowed to do everything in their power over the next few months to block the new appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative judge, to the country's highest judicial body, while Republicans said they would "lift heaven and Earth" to have him confirmed.
Politicians on both sides began rallying supporters, and millions of dollars are set to be spent on advertisements, as Judge Kavanaugh becomes a focal point for the midterm congressional elections in November.
The judge has to be confirmed in the US Senate where Republicans currently have a razor-thin 51-49 majority.
He would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who acted as a swing vote between the four conservatives and four liberals on the court, siding with liberals on a number of social issues including abortion.
Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation could lead in the next few years to an overturning of Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling of 1973 that established a constitutional right to abortion across the US. If overturned that would allow individual states to impose tight restrictions on abortion. Activists on both sides of the debate said the future of abortion in America was in the balance.
At 53, Judge Kavanaugh could sit on the court for decades, shifting it to the right on other issues too, including gun rights, campaign financing, deregulation and the rolling back of ObamaCare.
He has not publicly stated that he would vote to overturn Roe v Wade. However, last October, while sitting on the Appeals Court in Washington, he voted against other judges who permitted a teenage illegal immigrant in US custody to have an abortion.
Judge Kavanaugh, who is Catholic, was unveiled as the nominee live on television by Mr Trump following an Apprentice-style selection procedure.
Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the judge said: "I will keep an open mind in every case. I will tell each senator that I revere the constitution."
Mr Trump praised him as a "judge's judge" and "a brilliant jurist". (© Daily Telegraph, London)