President Donald Trump on Monday nominated appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court.
“Tonight, it is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Surpeme Court,” Trump said.
“Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” he said separately, adding later: “This incredibly qualified nominee deserves a swift confirmation and robust, bipartisan support.”
Kavanaugh, who first appeared on Trump’s roster of Federalist Society-approved potential Supreme Court nominees last year, began his remarks by applauding Trump’s “appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary.”
“No president has ever consulted so widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” he said.
“Tomorrow I begin meeting with members of the Senate, which plays an essential role in this process,” he later concluded. “I will tell each senator that I revere the Constitution. I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic. If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case. And I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
Kavanaugh has been viewed somewhat skeptically by some conservatives, who have scrutinized his ties to the Bushes and his long career inside the Beltway, the proverbial “swamp.”
He has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit since 2006. His confirmation for that post was stalled for nearly three years due to allegations by Democrats that he was too partisan.
Prior to being a judge, the 53-year-old Kavanaugh worked on Ken Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton, on the legal team for George W. Bush in the Florida recount effort, and in Bush’s White House.
In his decade-plus tenure on the D.C. Circuit, the most influential court below the Supreme Court, he has amassed a massive paper trail that will be picked apart by his opponents.
Among his controversial moves are multiple votes against environmental regulations, an opinion ruling that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had an unconstitutional structure, and a dissent from an appeals court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act in 2011. (He dissented because he believed the ACA was constitutional for reasons other than those cited by the court’s majority.)
More recently, he joined a decision overturning a district court’s move requiring the Trump administration to let an undocumented teen in detention seek an abortion. The decision would have allowed the government to delay the abortion while it sought a sponsor for the teen, but was reversed when appealed to the full appeals court, where Kavanaugh also wrote a dissent.
Additionally, Kavanaugh wrote a 2009 law article arguing that presidents should be exempt from certain lawsuits and investigations that “would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.”
He is a graduate of both Yale undergrad and law school, and he clerked for Kennedy.
Watch Trump’s announcement below: