Kansas Republicans and Democrats, abortion activists and partisan political organizations sprinted to their respective ideological corners to assess President Donald Trump's selection to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative and former aide to President George W. Bush who once worked as an investigator of President Bill Clinton. If confirmed by the divided U.S. Senate, Kavanaugh would fill Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat on the court.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., declared Kavanaugh to be a "well-qualified nominee with extensive experience in the legal field," while fellow Kansas Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said the judge possessed a "solid reputation as a great legal mind." Both said they looked forward to the vetting process for Kavanaugh.
Democrat Brent Welder, a congressional candidate in the 3rd District of Johnson and Wyandotte counties, said he viewed Kavanaugh as a "disaster nominee." He faulted the judge for ruling against the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act and siding with corporations over consumers by ruling the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could be removed at the whim of Trump.
"Kavanaugh believes presidents shouldn't be subjected to civil lawsuits or criminal prosecutions. How convenient," Welder said.
Steve Watkins, a Republican candidate in the 2nd congressional district that includes Topeka, urged "swamp politicians in the U.S. Senate to not play petty politics with the president's nominee and drag out the confirmation through the mid-term election." He said swift confirmation would help cement Trump's legacy of conservatism on the Supreme Court.
Gov. Jeff Colyer and U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, both Republicans, also endorsed the nomination of Kavanaugh. The Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity did likewise.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is competing with Colyer for the GOP nomination for governor, said the nomination would reshape the Supreme Court into a body that applied the Constitution from a body that "tries to write laws from the bench."
Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue, sent out a fundraising appeal linked to the nomination.
"The liberals realize that if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, we’re one step closer to overturning Roe v. Wade and ending abortion in America for good," Newman said. "We must come to Judge Kavanaugh’s aid right away, launch our own massive campaign in support of him, and stand up to the deep pockets of radical abortion lobby."
Julie Burkhart, founder and chief executive officer of Trust Women, said reproductive rights remained the top policy issue on the Trump administration's chopping-block agenda. The nomination shouldn't proceed with Trump under investigation, she said.
"So many in this country are already underserved when it comes to their reproductive health," Burkhart said. "We must use our voices and demand rigorous scrutiny and denial of President Trump’s nominee if he is not found to be the best choice for all our citizens."
Helen Van Etten, a Kansas Republican Party national committeewoman from Topeka, said Kavanaugh was "an experienced and principled jurist with a strong record of protecting constitutional rights."