Senate kicks off battle over Trump’s court pick

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Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement sets the stage for a major showdown in the Republican-led U.S. Senate, where centrist senators will play a starring role.

And remember this, so we have a pick to come up. We have to pick a great one.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has barely hung up his robe and the storm is already raging in the Sentae over who will replace him on the nation’s highest court.

But every American should have his or her eyes wide open to the fact.

Re publicans are planning to fast-track whoever President Trump nominates to fill Justice Kennedy’s shoes, hoping to hold their vote well before the November mid term elections.

Democrats are looknig for ways to slow the train. As always in Washington it comes down to who has the votes and Republicans have the upper hand, but the outcome is likely to be determined by a small group of centrists from both parties.

Trump is expected to name a more consistent conservative than Kennedy, who sometimes sided with the court’s liberals on high profile decisions.

At first glane, the math looks straight forward for Trump. He and his Senate Republicans only need a simple majority to put his pick on the high court.

Republicans have a 51-49 advantage, so if they all stick together, the president gets his way.

But in Washington, nothing is that simple. Senator Leader Mitch McConnell will have to keep an eagle eye on the moderate lawmakers in his own ranks, people like Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

They might vote against a Trump nominee if they fear he or she might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal.

In the same way, top Democrat Chuck Schumer could have trouble keeping his own troops in line. There are at least three red state Democrats facing tough re-election bids who might wind up siding with Trump.

The final vote is likely to be a nailbiter with these centrists playing a role.

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