Trump picks Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Trump picks Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

July 9th, 2018 by Associated Press in Breaking News

FILE -In this April 26, 2004, file photo, Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 with statement from Congressman Mo Brooks.

Local Reactions

"The Supreme Court plays a crucial role in our democracy, and the process of advice and consent on presidential nominations is one of the most serious responsibilities we have as United States senators. For more than 12 years, Judge Kavanaugh has served honorably on the federal bench, hearing critical cases before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a well-respected jurist who understands the importance of upholding the Constitution and applying the law in a fair and independent manner. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh during the confirmation process."

- U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

"I applaud President Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh's extensive record of proven, conservative ideology will be essential in the future decisions of the Supreme Court. In such a pivotal time in our nation's history, let us remember that the role of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution as our Founding Fathers intended, and I believe that Judge Kavanaugh will carry out this role faithfully. Over the weeks to come, I hope that the Senate acts quickly to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court." 

- Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03)

"I congratulate Judge Kavanaugh, who is a talented and experienced jurist, on his nomination to our nation's highest court. I firmly believe that justices who understand and apply the law based on the U.S. Constitution, and not on their own personal political views, should fill seats on our Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh's record indicates that he shares a strong commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. I look forward to meeting with him soon and working with my Senate colleagues and the administration during the confirmation process to ensure that this highly qualified candidate is voted on by the Senate in time for the Court's next session." 

- U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

"We know this Supreme Court confirmation process will be a long, hard battle and there is no doubt that if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, we will be at risk of losing some of our most important rights and protections, like the protections provided by the Affordable Care Act. During this process, our goal in Tennessee will be to stand strong for our values and focus on electing more Democrats -- from the Courthouse to the U.S. Senate -- who will ensure that every Tennessean, no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live, will have the opportunity for a better life for yourself and your family." 

- Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party Mary Mancini 

"The president has nominated a well-qualified jurist. Unfortunately, the Senate has gotten into a bad habit of treating good people as 'innocent until nominated.' Instead, I hope this confirmation process will be conducted with dignity and respect so that we may learn more about Judge Kavanaugh's character, temperament and attitudes." 

- U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) 

 "President Trump made an excellent choice when he nominated Neil Gorsuch, and he has repeated his standard of excellence by nominating Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It is a bedrock principle of the American Republic that justices should not substitute their policy beliefs for the policy beliefs of America's properly elected Congresses and presidents. Judicially activist justices betray the Constitution and America when they deem and substitute their own policy beliefs superior to those of elected officials who are tasked by our Constitution with making American law. Brett Kavanaugh has an established record of upholding the Constitution and federal law without inserting his personal political views into his decisions. As such, I look forward to his quick confirmation by the Senate. America's founding fathers brilliantly created three branches of government, with each being a check on the other two, and each having a defined role. Congress makes law, the Executive Branch implements law, and the Judiciary interprets and applies law. In my view, America is burdened with too many liberal, activist federal justices and judges who fail to abide by their role as limited by the Constitution, and I am pleased President Trump nominated a judge who understands the importance of limiting his role to that intended by America's founding fathers." 

- Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh, a politically connected conservative judge, for the Supreme Court Monday, setting up a ferocious confirmation battle with Democrats as he seeks to shift the nation's highest court further to the right.

A favorite of the Republican legal establishment in Washington, Kavanaugh, 53, is a former law clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Like Trump's first nominee last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh would be a young addition who could help remake the court for decades to come with rulings that could restrict abortion, expand gun rights and roll back key parts of Obamacare.

"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."

With Kavanaugh, Trump is replacing a swing vote on the nine-member court with a staunch conservative. Kavanaugh, who serves on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is expected to be less receptive to abortion and gay rights than Kennedy was. He also has taken an expansive view of executive power and has favored limits on investigating the president.

A senior White House official said Trump made his final decision on the nomination Sunday evening, then phoned Kavanaugh to inform him.

The official said Trump decided on Kavanaugh, a front-runner throughout the search process, because of his large body of jurisprudence cited by other courts, describing him as a judge that other judges read.

On Monday, Trump phoned retiring Justice Kennedy to inform him that his former law clerk would be nominated to fill his seat. Trump signed Kavanaugh's nomination papers Monday evening in the White House residence.

Top contenders had included federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman. Relishing the guessing game beyond the White House gates, Trump had little to say about his choice before the announcement.

Some conservatives have expressed concerns about Kavanaugh, questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion and noting his time serving under President George W. Bush as evidence he is a more establishment choice. But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions.

Ahead of his announcement, Trump tweeted about the stakes: "I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice - Will be announced tonight at 9:00 P.M."

With Democrats determined to vigorously oppose Trump's choice, the Senate confirmation battle is expected to dominate the months leading up to November's midterm elections. 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.

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."

Trump's success in confirming conservative judges, as well as a Supreme Court justice, has cheered Republicans amid concerns about his limited policy achievements and chaotic management style. 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 for years to come.

Kavanaugh is likely to be more conservative than Justice Kennedy on a range of social issues. At the top of that list is abortion. A more conservative majority could be more willing to uphold state restrictions on abortion, if not overturn the 45-year-old landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's constitutional right.

Kennedy's replacement also could be more willing to allow states to carry out executions and could support undoing earlier court holdings in the areas of racial discrimination in housing and the workplace. Kennedy provided a decisive vote in 2015 on an important fair housing case.

While the president has been pondering his choice, his aides have been preparing for what is expected to be a tough confirmation fight. The White House said Monday that former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl would guide Trump's nominee through the grueling Senate process.

Kyl, a former member of Republican leadership, served on the Senate Judiciary Committee before retiring in 2013. He works for the Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. The White House hopes Kyl's close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for confirmation.

Trump is hoping to replicate his successful nomination of Justice Gorsuch last year. The president spent the days leading up to his announcement discussing the pros and cons of various contenders with aides and allies.

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.

Kavanaugh is expected to meet in coming days with senators at their offices, going door-to-door in get-to-know-you sessions ahead of confirmation hearings.

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.

One Democrat up for re-election, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, announced Monday he would oppose any nominee from Trump's list of 25 possible candidates, drafted by conservative groups. He called it the "fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said opponents were using "40-year-old scare tactics" over abortion and other issues but they "will not stop us from doing the right thing."