NM delegation split on court nominee

SANTA FE – New Mexico’s congressional delegation was split Monday over President Donald Trump’s appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to fill a soon-to-be vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic members of the state’s delegation were largely critical of the appointment, while U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, the delegation’s lone Republican, praised the selection.

Both of the state’s senators – Democrats Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich – indicated they would oppose the nomination due largely to concerns over changes in long-standing Senate rules.

“The president pulled Judge Kavanaugh’s name from a pre-approved list concocted by radical, far-right special interests that are committed to undermining a woman’s right to choose, health care protections, safeguards for workers and seniors, LGBTQ rights, and a host of other critical public protections that touch the lives of every New Mexican and every American,” Udall said in a statement.

Both Udall and Heinrich singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for his handling of former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016.

The Senate never held a confirmation hearing on Garland’s nomination, with majority Republicans insisting the next president should fill the vacancy.

“We need to remedy both the political obstruction and broken rules that have led us into this terrible mess before confirming anymore nominees that will be tainted by it,” Heinrich said in a Monday statement.

Mick Rich, a Republican running against Heinrich in the November general election, accused Heinrich of political gamesmanship in his opposition to the pick. He also applauded Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, Pearce said Kavanaugh has a long record of legal accomplishments.

“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,” Pearce said.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat, said the president’s selection could “erase a generation of progress.”

“With the selection of Judge Kavanaugh, health care, marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights are all at stake,” Luján said. “It was my hope that President Trump would select a justice who would uphold and defend the rights of all Americans.”

“Unfortunately, the president selected a nominee who will almost certainly attack health care protections for those with pre-existing conditions and Roe v. Wade,” he added.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat, also urged the Senate to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“I oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Lujan Grisham said. “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.”

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