Trump Supreme Court nominee picks up support from holdout Republican

US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the Senator's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, on July 26, 2018.
US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the Senator's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, on July 26, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A Republican senator who had been a holdout threw his support behind US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday (July 30), improving chances the judge will win Senate confirmation despite a pitched battle by Democrats to block him.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul had expressed concerns over Kavanaugh's positions on privacy issues, but said Kavanaugh had eased them when the two met.

"After meeting Judge Kavanaugh and reviewing his record, I have decided to support his nomination," Paul said in a series of Twitter posts explaining his decision.

Paul's support could prove critical to the White House's effort to secure the votes needed for Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump's fellow Republicans hold a 51-49 Senate majority, leaving them little margin for error. No Democrats so far have said they would support the nominee.

Kavanaugh planned to meet later on Monday with Senator Joe Manchin, who was one of three Democrats to support Trump's first nominee to the high court, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Manchin will be the first Senate Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh, a conservative appeals court judge, since his nomination earlier this month.

In his posts on Twitter, Paul said he was confident Kavanaugh would be more open to constitutional Fourth Amendment protections involving digital records and property.

Paul said Kavanaugh has a strong record of property rights and "reining in the administrative state," and has issued strong defenses of the First and Second Amendments involving the rights of free speech and to bear arms.

"My conversation with Judge Kavanaugh reinforces my belief that he will evaluate cases before the Supreme Court from a textual and originalist point of view," he wrote.