Chris Matthews: Mitch McConnell has 'no right' to fill Supreme Court vacancy

Chris Matthews: Mitch McConnell has 'no right' to fill Supreme Court vacancy

Chris Matthews: Mitch McConnell has 'no right' to fill Supreme Court vacancy

President Donald Trump is expected to nominate a more conservative replacement, giving the right a five-four majority.

Then-president Ronald Reagan nominated Justice Kennedy for the court in 1987, as a compromise figure after the Senate rejected his previous nominee, right-winger Robert Bork.

"Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises", he wrote.

For years, he has infuriated conservatives with decisions striking down prayer at public school graduations and upholding abortion rights - and exasperated liberals with decisions on affirmative action and campaign finance laws.

Ramping up for midterm elections, President Trump embraced yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court travel ban ruling as a political victory as much as a legal one - as Democrats, activists and even five of the court's justices decried statements Trump made about the ban as anti-religious.

Without him, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans.

President Trump has a list of 25 potential nominees, all with conservative credentials, all with pro-life stances that the president endorses.

"Hopefully we will pick someone who is just as outstanding", he told reporters in the Oval Office. Mr. Trump did not answer questions about who Kennedy recommended.

McConnell changed rules for filibusters on Supreme Court justices previous year to overcome Democratic opposition and confirm Trump's first appointment, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Republicans, with a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, are planning to move ahead. Kennedy often provided the crucial swing vote on issues, including the historic same sex marriage verdict in 2015. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the nuclear option, lowering the threshold from the super majority of 60 votes that is normally required for confirmation to a simple majority.

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