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US President Donald Trump has nominated federal appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Abortion rights activists are desperately pinning their hopes on Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from ME, to join Democrats and block President Trump's Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the weeks ahead. After winning confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch past year, Trump has teased his latest options for days, after narrowing down his list of prospects to four federal appeals-court judges: Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman.

The official said Trump decided on Kavanaugh, a front-runner throughout the search process, because of his large body of jurisprudence cited by other courts, describing him as a judge that other judges read.

While activists and progressive groups are targeting moderate Republican senators who support abortion rights like Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, urging them to reject any Trump nominee who is hostile to Roe v. Wade, a handful of Democrats will be key in deciding whether the president gets his pick confirmed to the high court, because of the razor-thin partisan divide in the Senate. He was a runner-up past year when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Trump's nominee can win confirmation with only Republican votes, but attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights. He is probably best known for his ties to President George W. Bush.

Opposition researchers, vetters and Senate staffers would have to comb through not just his 286 opinions as a judge, the most of any current judge under consideration, but also his papers at the National Archives, which would include his years in the Bush White House and his role in the Ken Starr investigation looking into President Clinton. "I think these are judges who have been vetted, they've received votes, they've received, in many cases, bipartisan support". Additionally, the nominee has not publicly said whether he'd favor overturning Roe v. Wade. The opinion, written for a three-judge panel, was eventually overturned by the full court.

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It may not also be his last, with liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg 85-years-old and Stephen Breyer turning 80 next month.

He says he will fight the nomination "with everything I have".

Kavanaugh now faces what appears to be another fierce fight for confirmation in the Senate, where Trump's fellow Republicans hold a slim majority.

Trump and McConnell have been in frequent contact since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he would be stepping down from the court.

Even if all 49 members of the Democratic caucus united to oppose the nominee they would still need at least one Republican to join them to block the nomination.

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Watch full coverage of the landmark decision TONIGHT at 9:00pm ET on Fox News Channel. Plus, he is a former law clerk to Kennedy, who switched sides quite a bit during his time on the Supreme Court.

But the Republican blockade helped solidify conservative and evangelical support for Trump during the election, as many rallied to the cause of having a Republican president fill the seat. He called it the "fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp".

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been targeting three Democratic senators who are up for re-election in red states that Trump won in 2016, including West Virginia Sen.

The US Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter on contentious laws and disputes between states and the federal government. Three Democratic senators who voted for Gorsuch - Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of IN and Joe Manchin of West Virginia - are up for re-election IN states Trump won handily IN 2016.

In a 2013 law review article, Kavanaugh wrote that after seeing firsthand the many hard duties that a president encounters, he thinks that presidents should operate free from the threat of civil suits, such as the sexual harassment suit that led to Clinton's impeachment, and that presidents should also be free from criminal investigation. Kavanaugh now reportedly believes court proceedings against a sitting president should be deferred until after he or she is out of office. Heidi Heitkamp - voted "yes" on the confirmation of his first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

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The Maine senator said there are names on Trump's list of potential nominees she couldn't support, whom she declined to identify. In January, Collins was one of two Republicans who voted against banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy along with Sen.