WASHINGTON (ABC News) – President Donald Trump announced U.S. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second U.S. Supreme Court justice pick less than two years into his presidency.
In a prime-time announcement in the East Room of the White House, President Trump set the stage for a high-stakes battle over a nominee who lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum have argued could alter the course of the nation’s highest court for a generation.
“What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require,” Trump said. “I am pleased to say that I have found without doubt such a person. Tonight, it is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.”
Kavanaugh, 53, is a Yale Law School graduate who has served on the D.C. Circuit Court for 12 years and was once a former clerk to the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. While Kavanaugh was framed as the more “establishment” conservative pick of the other candidates, various Republicans had phoned President Trump last week to voice their objections over his potential nomination, including a 2011 opinion where he declined to rule the Obamacare health insurance mandate as unconstitutional.
“Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” Trump said. “Throughout legal circles, he is considered a judge’s judge, a true thought leader among his peers. He’s a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style, universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds in our time.”
Democrats, meanwhile, have raised alarm not just over Kavanaugh’s conservative bona fides, but one of past academic writings in which he argued presidents “should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office” such as responding to civil lawsuits and investigative inquiries based out of criminal charges. Such a stance could prove relevant if the Supreme Court is ever tasked with deciding the fate of actions in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, such as an attempt at subpoenaing the president for an interview.
The Democratic National Committee released the following video statement after the announcement Monday evening.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT):
“I’m so pleased that the President has selected Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
I was honored that the President would consult me about this critical pick and invite me to attend the official White House announcement.
Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding choice. I know him from his previous confirmation to the D.C. Circuit. He is one of our nation’s most distinguished and influential jurists. During his more than twelve years on the bench, Judge Kavanaugh has authored hundreds of opinions on issues ranging from national security to agency rulemaking to constitutional rights. He has shown a deep commitment to the separation of powers and to both the First and Second Amendment. He will be a strong, principled voice on the Supreme Court.
I’m so pleased to have one more opportunity to help shape the Supreme Court before I leave office. This will be my fifteenth Supreme Court confirmation fight. I fought hard to confirm Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, and I intend to do everything in my power to see Judge Kavanaugh confirmed as well.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT):
“Judge Kavanaugh is a well-respected jurist who deservedly received bipartisan support when confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in 2006. I know him to be a smart and fair judge, one of the most admired appellate judges in the country. I look forward to the process in the Senate, getting to know Judge Kavanaugh and his family better in coming months, and, hopefully, voting to confirm him to the Supreme Court in the fall.”
Rep. John Curtis (R-UT):
“One of the most lasting and consequential parts of any president’s legacy is their appointment of judges to the federal judiciary, especially to the Supreme Court. I am pleased that President Trump has nominated Judge Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Like President Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a commitment to interpreting the Constitution as it is written, rather than as he would personally like to have seen it written. I hope the Senate will swiftly fulfill their Constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent by confirming this eminently qualified judge to the Supreme Court.
Rep. Mia Love (R-UT):
“It is extremely important that a conservative judge be confirmed on the Supreme Court and I’m pleased that the President nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh is an experienced, principled jurist with a strong record of protecting life and Constitutional rights. I’m looking forward to hearing more from him during the upcoming confirmation hearings. “
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes:
“I applaud President Trump for nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Kavanaugh’s experience and jurisprudence on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia demonstrates he has the most important quality a judicial nominee can possess-the ability to decide cases as an impartial judge based on the U.S. Constitution and laws passed by Congress, and not as a would-be legislator, based on laws as the judge may wish them to be.
“President Trump deserves credit for continuing his commitment to nominate originalist and textualist jurists like Justice Neal Gorsuch and Judge Brett Kavanaugh who respect the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Judge Kavanaugh brings with him many of the best aspects of Justice Kennedy’s legacy in addition to his own unique lens to the Court.
“Those who have worked with Judge Kavanaugh on both sides of the aisle praise his intellect, approach and character on the bench. He will be a fine addition to the High Court. I urge the Senate to quickly confirm Judge Kavanaugh so that the Court can continue its important work with a full complement of Justices when it returns to the bench this fall.”