President Donald Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh, a politically connected conservative judge, for the Supreme Court on Monday night, setting up a ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats as he seeks to shift the nation’s highest court further to the right.
A favorite of the Republican legal establishment in Washington, Kavanaugh, 53, is a former law clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Like Trump’s first nominee last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh would be a young addition who could help remake the court for decades to come with rulings that could restrict abortion, expand gun rights and roll back key parts of Obamacare.
“There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving,” said Trump in his prime-time televised address from the White House, calling Kavanaugh “one of the sharpest legal minds of our time.”
With Kavanaugh, Trump is replacing a swing vote on the nine-member court with a staunch conservative. Kavanaugh, who serves on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is expected to be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than Kennedy was. He also has taken an expansive view of executive power and has favored limits on investigating the president.
Speaking at the White House, Kavanaugh pledged to preserve the Constitution and said that “a judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret the Constitution as written.”
A senior White House official said Trump made his final decision on the nomination Sunday evening, then phoned Kavanaugh to inform him. The official said Trump decided on Kavanaugh because of his large body of jurisprudence cited by other courts, describing him as a judge that other judges read.
On Monday, Trump phoned retiring Justice Kennedy to inform him his former law clerk would be nominated to fill his seat. Trump later signed Kavanaugh’s nomination papers in the White House residence.
Top contenders had included federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman.
Some conservatives have expressed concerns about Kavanaugh, questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion and noting his time serving under President George W. Bush as evidence he is a more establishment choice. But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions.
With Democrats determined to vigorously oppose Trump’s choice, the Senate confirmation battle is expected to dominate the months leading up to November’s midterm elections. Senate Republicans hold only a 51-49 majority, leaving them hardly any margin if Democrats hold the line. Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 will face pressure to back his nominee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Kavanaugh “a superb choice” and said senators would meet with him this week.
Democrats and liberal advocacy groups quickly lined up in opposition.
Signaling the fight ahead on abortion rights, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement: “There’s no way to sugarcoat it: With this nomination, the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion in this country is on the line.”
The Milton and Parkview school districts will get more than $201,000 combined in school safety grants from the state, the Department of Justice announced Monday.
The Milton School District will receive $139,910 for safety upgrades. Parkview will get $61,783.
The grants are part of the state’s 2018 School Safety Initiative, which is distributing $100 million to public and private schools for safety improvements.
Milton will use its money for three projects, said district spokesman Jerry Schuetz.
Shatter-resistant film is considered a primary security update, Schuetz said. The state grants mandate that schools pay for primary updates before taking on advanced updates.
The other two projects fell under the advanced security category, he said.
School districts could ask for no more than $20,000 per school building for advanced security upgrades, according to state documents.
Milton’s grant money will cover things that the district would have had to pay for through the budget or a capital referendum, District Administrator Tim Schigur said.
The public address system at Consolidated Elementary School needs a complete overhaul, Schigur said. The system enables staff to communicate with the entire school in an emergency.
The district already has security cameras, Schigur said, and the additional cameras will cover more ground.
Milton applied for $124,350, according to the Justice Department website, but received $15,560 more than that. Schuetz said the amount was increased to accommodate for the cost of shatter-resistant film and for additional cameras at the elementary schools.
District staff will meet this week to start planning installations, Schigur said. The projects will be finished “as soon as possible.”
Parkview School District upgrades will include:
Parkview received the amount it asked for and will be able to complete all of its projects, officials said.
Safebolt Instant Lockdown Locks allow staff to lock classrooms with the push of a button, District Administrator Steve Lutzke said.
Many of the classrooms’ existing locks are difficult to operate.
“We feel it is going to make our schools and students and staff safer than we are,” Lutzke said.
“We appreciate the support from the state in helping us do these projects.”
Harold Abey Sr.
Robert “Bobby Boy” Ackermann
Lester William Amenda
Matthew T. Anderson
Linda Hawkins Bessel
Giles “Lefty” Clark
Ronald A. Dreblow
Betty J. Frank
Debora M. Krohn
Robert G. “Bob” McLaughlin
Robert H. Miller
Lawrence S. Moody
Richard D. Pierson
Margaret Ann Sager
Kenneth Robert Scaro
Mabel E. Sonnenberg
Four-year-old Harlow Phillips sat in the cab of an excavator Monday morning, watching the bucket turn up dirt on an empty lot in Evansville.
This was no ordinary dirt. The ground beneath her eventually will support a house built by Harlow’s father, Andy Phillips, and other volunteers.
Money from selling the house will benefit Beat Nb, a neuroblastoma research and awareness organization that helps people like Harlow, said Kim Katzenmeyer, Harlow’s aunt.
The family hopes to donate at least $200,000 as a result of the project, which is named “A Home for Harlow.”
A dozen family members and friends gathered for a groundbreaking Monday morning, dressed in black T-shirts with purple letters spelling “Team Harlow.”
The guest of honor’s shirt had sparkly purple letters that stood out in the crowd.
Last September, Harlow was diagnosed with Stage 4 neroublastoma, a cancer commonly found in the adrenal glands. Since then, the 4-year-old has been in and out of the hospital, sometimes staying for weeks at a time, said her mother, Melani Phillips.
Harlow returned home from the hospital Saturday, Melani said, and was scheduled to begin immunotherapy, one of the last treatments she needs to beat back the disease, in June. That was postponed when she was diagnosed with thrombotic microangiopathy, a disease that affects blood vessels.
Harlow’s father brainstormed the house idea in January while sitting in the hospital with his daughter. He started sharing his ideas with others, and the project snowballed from there, he said.
Andy owns Phillips Contracting and has built homes since 2011, he said.
Usually, he and his team need five months to build a house. He estimates this house will take about eight months to complete because volunteers are building it with donated materials.
The project is about two-thirds of the way funded, said Katzenmeyer, Harlow’s aunt. Money is still needed to pay off the lot, and some materials also are needed.
The Phillips family was surprised to see how quickly area residents stepped up to volunteer. Melani said her first Facebook post about the project got more than 600 shares.
This is not the first project in Evansville to benefit Beat Nb.
Harlow’s cousin Logan Katzenmeyer and his friend Kellan Sunness hosted a charity ball for the family in February.
The event raised more than $90,000, Kim Katzenmeyer said. From that, $50,000 was given to the UW Carbone Cancer Center in Madison. About $30,000 was donated to Beat Nb, and the remaining helped the Phillips family pay the cost of Harlow’s treatment.
After receiving immunotherapy, Harlow will take medication for two years to prevent the cancer from returning.
But on Monday, she scampered and played with other children as if none of those worries existed.