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South Dakota's senators are responding to President Donald Trump's latest nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“I commend President Trump for his selection of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court," said U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in a statement Monday night. "Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial career has demonstrated his commitment to impartiality and faithful application of the Constitution. I look forward to sitting down with Judge Kavanaugh as we go through the confirmation process."

“The president has announced his nominee, and now the Senate has a constitutional role of advice and consent," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said in a statement supporting the nomination. "I take this responsibility very seriously. Confirming conservative, fair-minded judges who will adhere to the Constitution is one of the most important responsibilities of the United States Senate.”

Kavanaugh, 53, a federal appeals court judge, former aide to President George W. Bush, and assistant to independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation into President Bill Clinton, has garnered support in the conservative political and legal circles. 

In a statement, President Bush praised the announcement, citing his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit. 

"He is a fine husband, father, and friend — and a man of the highest integrity."

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A pitched confirmation battle appears to be shaping up in the Senate. Many Democrats, still bitter over Republican leadership's decision to not hold a hearing on President Obama's final pick of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat vacated following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia nine months out from the 2016 presidential election, have vowed to oppose any nominee that could cement a rightward swing of the nation's highest court.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced his opposition to the nominee in a statement.

“In selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block. His own writings make clear that he would rule against reproductive rights and freedoms, and that he would welcome challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act."

Thune encouraged senators to "carefully review the qualifications of this nominee instead of trying to solicit his opinions on political issues." Rounds said he looked forward to a "vigorous" confirmation hearing.

Contact Christopher Vondracek at

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