President Donald Trump announced Monday night that he will nominate Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"Tonight, it is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court," Trump said.
Kavanaugh, 53, was considered more of an establishment candidate. He clerked for Kennedy and graduated from Yale Law School. He has strong ties to the Bush family and worked as a lawyer for Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton presidency. Since 2006, Kavanaugh has been a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law. A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Judge Kavanaugh currently teaches at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown," 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 of our time."
Kennedy announced that he would retire, effective July 31, giving Trump the opportunity to make two appointments in two years to the nation's highest court. The vacancy sets up a bitter confirmation fight right before the midterm elections, where Republicans only have a single vote majority in the Senate.
Despite the slim majority, Senate Republicans only need a simple majority to confirm him after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) changed the rules to allow it in the case of Supreme Court justice confirmations. McConnell's move followed the precedent set by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), when he eliminated the filibuster for judicial nominees and presidential appointments back in 2013.
Trump urged senators on both sides of the aisle to support Kavanaugh's nomination.
"There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," Trump said. "I want to thank the senators on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, for their consultation and advice during the selection process. this incredibly qualified nominee deserves a swift confirmation and robust bipartisan support."
Politico reported that former Republican Senator Jon Kyl (Ariz.), will shepherd the nominee through the confirmation process.