Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, DC – June 10, 2018
President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a politically connected conservative judge, for the Supreme Court, as he seeks to shift the balance of the court further to the right.
Trump said on Monday that he is nominating Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed, Kavanaugh is likely to be a reliable conservative vote who could weaken or imperil abortion rights, beef up support on the court for capital punishment and clamp down on the power of regulatory agencies.
A favorite of the Republican legal establishment in Washington, Kavanaugh, 53, is a former law clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh has written roughly 300 opinions in his 12 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, penned several law review articles and spoken at law school and Federalist Society events across the country. Kavanaugh is a member of the conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network and was on a list of potential nominees that it helped compile for Trump.
"There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," said Trump, who called Kavanaugh "one of the sharpest legal minds of our time."
Kavanaugh already is very familiar to his prospective future colleagues on the Supreme Court, who also all have Ivy League law degrees. Several of his opinions were dissents that eventually were vindicated when Supreme Court majorities saw the issue the same way he did.
He is expected to face strong opposition from Democrats, who already have called Kavanaugh and the other Supreme Court finalists too conservative. Senate Republicans hold only a 51-49 majority, leaving them hardly any margin if Democrats hold the line. Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 will face pressure to back his nominee.
They are hoping to persuade Republican Senate moderates to vote against Kavanaugh. Some Republicans, certain to support Kavanaugh, had hoped Trump would choose someone seen as a stronger social conservative.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said he was bracing for a tough confirmation battle as Democrats focus on abortion. Kennedy, a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will get the first chance to question the nominee, predicted a "rough, tough, down in the dirt, ear-pulling, nose-biting fight."
The White House invited a number of senators to attend the Monday night announcement, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Kennedy.
Democrats who were invited but declined included Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Dianne Feinstein of California. Feinstein is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. The others are Republican targets for the confirmation vote who come from Trump-won states where they face re-election this fall.
Democrats have turned their attention to pressuring two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to oppose any nominee who threatens Roe v. Wade. The two have supported access to abortion services.
Trump's success in shifting the nation's highest court further to the right, has cheered Republicans amid concerns about his limited policy achievements and chaotic management style. So, conservatives have a magnificent possibility of galvanizing their base for years to come. Of the court's liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Stephen Breyer turns 80 next month, so Trump may well get another opportunity to cement conservative dominance of the court.