President Donald Trump selected DC federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy who will officially retire in July after thirty years on the court. Judge Kavanaugh, 53, previously clerked for Justice Kennedy where he worked with another Kennedy clerk, Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom President Trump appointed to the Supreme Court in 2017 to fill the vacancy created by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” Trump said during a prime-time address at the White House.
Kavanaugh, a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, has a voluminous record which includes approximately 300 opinions, legal articles and speeches which were generated during his twelve years as a federal judge. Kavanaugh was originally appointed to the appeals court by President George W. Bush for whom he previously served as White House lawyer and staff secretary. During his employment at The White House, Kavanaugh met his future wife Ashley who was then employed as President Bush’s personal secretary.
As a young attorney, Judge Kavanaugh also assisted with independent counsel Ken Starr’s report about President Clinton’s affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky. And while Kavanaugh helped to build the case for the impeachment, he later commented that presidents should not have to deal with criminal proceedings while in office.
Justice Kennedy’s replacement is a particularly crucial role in that the Justice frequently served as the swing vote on the court. The announcement of his resignation has created additional polarization in our already highly polarized political climate. While the left was fearful that President Trump would pick a nominee who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the right was concerned that the President might select a nominee who was not conservative enough.
While Judge Kavanaugh is viewed as somewhat of a DC insider choice for the court, we have little indication as to how he would rule on abortion given that he has never directly ruled on an abortion case. Since abortion has become the unofficial litmus test for Justice Kennedy’s replacement, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing is certain to include extensive questioning on this topic.
Image: Excerpted from: White House photo by Eric Draper – https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/06/images/20060601-4_d-0378-515h.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9077745