President Trump has confirmed that his nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court will be 53-year-old appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, the long-reputed frontrunner. The White House managed to keep Trump’s pick a secret until roughly 8 minutes before the President’s planned announcement, when NBC News confirmed that Kavanaugh had clinched the nomination.
As Trump pointed out, a dozen of Kavanaugh’s 300 DC Circuit opinions have been adopted by the Supreme Court. “There is no one in America more qualified for this position or more deserving.” During his remarks, Kavanaugh said his judicial philosophy is straighforward. A judge must interpret the law, not make the law, and interpret the constitution as written. Kavanaugh went to Yale and Yale Law and clerked for Kennedy on the Supreme Court, where he reportedly first met Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first SCOTUS nominee.
As Bloomberg points out, expect a lot of focus on Kavanaugh’s 2009 paper arguing that a president shouldn’t have to face the distractions of criminal prosecutions and lawsuits while president. Kavanaugh could cast the deciding vote on whether Trump must cooperate with a grand jury subpoena from Robert Mueller. Already, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is telling reporters that he would ask Kavanaugh to recuse himself from cases related to the Mueller probe.
By choosing Kavanaugh, President Trump has satisfied online bookmakers and Washington insiders alike by selecting Brett Kavanaugh, long rumored to be the front-runner, as his pick to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy. While he reportedly faced opposition from some social conservatives over his ties to former President George W Bush, Kavanaugh benefited from a lengthy history of conservative rulings (he’s served in his current role as circuit judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia since 2006) and the support of White House counsel Don McGahn III, who was tasked with leading the search. Though his rulings on some issues – notably Obamacare – have been seen as controversial by some.