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The Latest: VP Pence calls Trump Supreme Court nominee 'impeccable'

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court (all times local):     

12:10 a.m.  Vice President Mike Pence says Brett Kavanaugh would bring "impeccable credentials and character" to the Supreme Court.  Pence made the comment Tuesday during Kavanaugh's first stop on his confirmation push. The appellate court judge posed for photos in Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's office, with the Kentucky Republican, Pence and former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl.  Pence, who is also president of the Senate, called Kavanaugh a "good man" and "quite simply the most qualified and the most deserving nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States."  McConnell said Kavanaugh was an "outstanding nomination." He said he looks forward to the confirmation process beginning.  Republicans and Democrats are at odds over Kavanaugh and with the Senate closely divided, his path to confirmation is treacherous.

11:15 a.m.  For Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the confirmation challenge has begun.  The appellate court judge's first, well-photographed stop: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office. He is being accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and former Sen. Jon Kyl, his guide for the confirmation process.  Before Kavanaugh even arrived at the Capitol Tuesday, Senate leaders were at loggerheads over his nomination. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee took to the steps of the Supreme Court to protest President Donald Trump's choice, which is for the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Opening the Senate earlier Tuesday, McConnell called Kavanaugh "perfectly qualified." Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer gave a preview of his party's push-back by warning that Kavanaugh is "way out of the mainstream" and would undermine health care protections and women's reproductive rights.

11:05 a.m.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he expects Democrats to grill Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on what decisions he might make in hypothetical cases.  But McConnell said Tuesday that's not how the confirmation process works.  McConnell cites Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's comments that a judge sworn to decide impartially "can offer no forecast, no hints" because that would show disregard for particular cases and disdain for the judicial process.      McConnell says "I think we would all should remember that standard."  He has opened the Senate with a hearty endorsement of Kavanaugh, saying his resume "to put it simply, is top-notch."

11 a.m.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is rallying Democrats to block the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, saying "we cannot let it happen."  The margin for Kavanaugh's confirmation is narrow, with Republicans holding a 51-49 majority. Schumer is holding out hope Democrats can prevail.  He says if the Senate blocks the nomination, "it will lead to a more independent, moderate selection that both parties can support."  Schumer is also arguing that senators need time to review Kavanaugh's writings. He says, "we need those documents now more than ever because this new justice will be so pivotal in determining the future of our nation for so long."  The Democrat characterizes the judge as someone who would side "with the big boys against the average person." 

10:05 a.m.  Brett Kavanaugh is headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to meet with Republican leaders as the battle begins over his nomination to the Supreme Court.  Kavanaugh, an appellate judge, will first huddle with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He will then meet with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman.  Republicans have reacted positively to President Donald Trump's pick, but McConnell has little margin of error to get Kavanaugh confirmed. The GOP has a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate.  McConnell said he looked forward to meeting Kavanaugh and urged senators "to put partisanship aside" when considering his qualifications.  Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York is vowing to fight the nomination with "with everything I have."

9:26 a.m.  Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she's going to conduct a "careful, thorough vetting" of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Trump announced Monday night that he's selected Brett Kavanaugh, a solidly conservative judge, to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.      That sets up a ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats who are pressuring Collins and Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to oppose any nominee who threatens Roe v. Wade ruling that affirmed women's right to abortion..  Republicans hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate, so they need all Republican votes.  Collins has said she would oppose any nominee she believed would overturn Roe v. Wade. She stressed that she wants to back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the Roe decision.

12:30 a.m.  President Donald Trump has picked a favorite of the Republican legal establishment, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, for the Supreme Court.  With Kavanaugh, Trump is replacing a swing vote on the nine-member court with a staunch conservative already being cheered by top Republican senators.      Kavanaugh serves on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He's expected to be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than the justice he would replace, Anthony Kennedy. He's also taken an expansive view of executive power and has favored limits on investigating the president.  The Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has wasted no time to say he'll oppose Kavanaugh. Schumer says Trump "has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block."

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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