Trump taps Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

President Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Monday night, setting up a furious partisan confirmation battle as he seeks to move the high court firmly under conservatives’ control for decades to come. In a prime-time announcement at the White House, the president tapped Judge Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a 12-day whirlwind search to replace the retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. “He is a brilliant jurist,” Mr. Trump said as he introduced the nominee and his family. “There is no one in America more qualified for this position.” Judge Kavanaugh, 53, has served on the appeals court since 2006, ruling on some of the nation’s most high-profile cases on a court that is considered a steppingstone to the Supreme Court. He is a favorite of the conservative Washington legal establishment. He worked in the White House counsel’s office under President George W. Bush and helped draft special counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s report urging the impeachment of President Clinton. The nominee also was a clerk to Justice Kennedy. Leonard Leo, an outside adviser to the president for judicial selection, said Judge Kavanaugh “is among the most distinguished and respected judges in the country, with nearly 300 opinions that clearly demonstrate fairness and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution as it’s written and enforcing the limits on government power contained in the Constitution.” As the president wrapped up a selection process that included interviews with at least seven candidates, he passed over three other appeals court judges who were on his short list: Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Raymond Kethledge of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Also in the audience in the East Room was Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, who conferred with the president last week on the nomination but didn’t make the short list. Judge Kavanaugh said he was “deeply honored” to be nominated to replace Justice Kennedy. “Mr. President, I am grateful to you, and I’m humbled by your confidence in me,” he said. When the president introduced his nominee, the audience gave him a standing ovation for one minute and eight seconds. “I know the people in this room very well. They do not stand and give applause like that very often. So they have some respect,” Mr. Trump said. The pick is Mr. Trump’s second to the nation’s highest court, after he selected Justice Neil M. Gorsuch last year to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. The stakes are even higher with this nomination, as Mr. Trump seizes a rare opportunity for a president to reshape the court for a generation or longer. Justice Kennedy, who will turn 82 this month, announced his retirement June 27 as the longtime moderate swing vote on the high court. His retirement leaves the court with two solid blocs — four liberal and four conservative justices — and the next justice could be a pivotal vote on such issues as abortion, gay rights, entitlements, presidential authority, election law, labor rules and government regulation. The confirmation hearing promises to be a fierce battle. Republicans have a 51-49 majority and can’t afford to lose any votes because Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, is absent with brain cancer.

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