President Trump announced his second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night, picking federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a former clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy and a graduate of Yale Law School. He has sat on the D.C. Circuit Court since 2006 and has ties to the Bush family. He was appointed by George W. Bush after serving five years in the White House counsel's office during the Bush administration. He also worked with independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the investigation of President Bill Clinton.
According to The New York Times, Kavanaugh was a favorite of White House Counsel Don McGahn, who headed up the search for Trump's nominee.
Trump's selection followed intense speculation and bitter arguing about who would replace Kennedy, who previously announced he would retire this summer.
In a series of tweets, Trump played coy about his choice over the weekend, saying "An exceptional person will be chosen!" on Sunday and "Big decision will soon be made on our next Justice of the Supreme Court!"
On Monday, he posted, "I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice."
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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
With his usual bluster, the president made his announcement at 9 p.m., during the peak of prime-time television. A short list of nominees emerged in recent days, all of them federal appeals judges, with Trump intending his choice to shift the country's highest court farther to the right.
The president's choice is bound to unleash a cantankerous confirmation process, with Democrats complaining that pushing the court even more to the right may jeopardize landmark rulings such as the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal.
Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman were the top four finalists, all of them with conservative records. On Monday, that list narrowed to two, Kavanaugh and Hardiman, according to major news outlets including CBS and The New York Times.
Kavanaugh follows the same legal footprints as Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court pick, a lifelong supporter of religious liberty.