Donald Trump nominated appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh Monday to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by outgoing justice Anthony Kennedy.
In his second SCOTUS-related made-for-TV moment since becoming president, Trump unveiled his choice at 9 p.m. ET, teasing the primetime event during the weekend and Monday morning. Though moments before the big reveal, media outlets began to report that Trump had picked Kavanaugh after he was seen leaving the nearby D.C. Circuit accompanied by security detail.
The 53-year-old Yale Law School graduate has served on the D.C. appeals court since 2006, having been nominated by George W. Bush in 2003. Kavanaugh previously served in the Bush administration advising on the selection of judicial nominees, and worked the Bush campaign during the 2000 Florida recount. In the 1990s, he worked with independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation that eventually led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Trump’s pick will likely establish a 5-4 conservative majority on the court, which could shape the court for generations.
Justice Kennedy, who announced his retirement at the end of June, was widely considered the swing vote in divisive cases like abortion, gay rights and the death penalty.
Kavanaugh has support among some Republicans for authoring 280 opinions with a predominantly conservative bent. Last year, he ruled to prevent a teenager held in immigrant detention from getting an abortion. He has also ruled against Obama-era environmental regulations and more recently argued that “Congress might consider a law exempting a president — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by federal prosecutors or defense counsel.”
Among Trump’s runner ups in addition to Judge Kavanaugh, were Judges Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.