President Trump announced on a live television broadcast Monday night that he is nominating federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kavanaugh, 53, will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Court. Kennedy, long considered the “swing vote” on the nine member Court, retired in June after thirty years on the highest bench in the land.
Trump selected Kavanaugh over three well qualified finalists who were also on the list of 25 potential Supreme Court Justices he announced during his campaign for president.
Kavanaugh has served as a federal circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Kavanaugh is considered a protegee of Ken Starr, who he worked for during Starr’s special counsel investigation. He also clerked for Justice Kennedy and served in the administration of George W. Bush.
The three finalists who Trump did not select this time around were: federal appeals court judge Raymond Kethledge, federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett, and federal appeals court judge Thomas Hardiman.
Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51, is a native of Michigan and graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. He clerked for Justice Kennedy, and has served as a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2008.
Judge Barrett, 47, a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and Notre Dame Law School, clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She spent most of her career as a professor at Notre Dame Law School, and was confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in November.
Judge Thomas Hardiman, 53, has served as a federal circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 2007. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Hardiman was in private practice before being named to the Third Circuit by President George W. Bush.
Republicans hold a narrow 51 to 49 majority in the Senate, and the leadership of the Democratic Party has already signaled they intend to do everything in their power to scuttle President Trump’s pick to replace Kennedy.
That will be a tall order, however, since a number of Democratic senators are up for re-election in November in states President Trump won in 2016.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that a floor vote will be held to confirm President Trump’s nominee in the fall.