WASHINGTON (FOX News) – President Trump nominated appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Monday night to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, ending a days-long guessing game that began the moment Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27.
In televised remarks from the East Room of the White House, the president praised what he called Kavanaugh’s “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.”
“There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving,” Trump said.
The four finalists – Kavanaugh and fellow appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge – were drawn from a list of 25 names vetted by conservative groups.
A clue to Kavanaugh’s nomination emerged hours before the announcement when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in which the judge sided with the majority. The D.C. court does not typically issue opinions on Mondays except in response to emergency petitions, suggesting that the case had to be disposed of before Kavanaugh was nominated for the high court.
Kavanaugh, a former law clerk to Kennedy in 1993, was elevated to the powerful federal appeals court in the District of Columbia by President George W. Bush, under whom he had served as a White House lawyer and staff secretary. Kavanaugh, 53, also won the confidence of key players in the Bush circle such as strategist Karl Rove.
Click here to learn more about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Statements from Arkansas elected officials:
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR):
“Judge Kavanaugh is a distinguished jurist whose extensive experience and respect within the legal community make him uniquely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. He has had an impressive legal career that the Senate recognized by confirming him with bipartisan support to the federal bench.
I encourage my colleagues to thoroughly consider this nomination. I look forward to a fair confirmation process and hearing more from Judge Kavanaugh about his judicial philosophy.”
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR):
“Judge Kavanaugh has an impressive record as a jurist and as a lawyer. This is a highly consequential nomination, and it deserves the most careful consideration, so I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh soon to discuss more in detail his views on the Supreme Court’s role in our constitutional democracy.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
Via Twitter: “I like President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. He is highly qualified & has demonstrated his dedication to the rule of law through his service on the DC Circuit. I am hopeful for his timely confirmation.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
“Once again, President Donald Trump has appointed one of the country’s top legal minds to serve on the nation’s highest court,” said Attorney General Rutledge.
“Judge Kavanaugh currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. and has worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, at the Justice Department and even clerked for Justice Kennedy. Judge Kavanaugh has continuously supported reigning in the over-regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama Administration, as well as deeming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional. His legal experience and educational background make him an exceptional choice by the President and one that I fully support. I know Judge Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice will continue to protect the liberties of all Americans.”
WASHINGTON (Fox News) – President Trump has decided on his nominee for the Supreme Court, a source with knowledge of the search told Fox News, though the name of the pick still is not known.
The finalists are believed to be four federal judges: Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman.
Trump said he will announce his choice to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat Monday night.
“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,” the president tweeted.
Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for a blistering confirmation process, as Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate and liberals have expressed fear that Trump’s pick could join the conservatives on the court to someday overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.
In order for a Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed, he or she needs to receive a simple majority of 51 votes.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a speech on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, blasted the “scare tactics” from Democrats and called for Trump’s nominee to face a fair evaluation in the Senate.
“Tonight, President Trump will announce his nominee to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy,” McConnell said. “We don’t know who he will name but we already know exactly what unfair tactics the nominee will face.”
Speaking on the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted the involvement of the conservative Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, who helped the president compile his list of potential justices.
“Mr. Leonard Leo is the man who assembled Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees and no one, no one, has been more dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade than Leonard Leo,” Schumer said.
The Judicial Crisis Network made clear Monday they consider this fight even more substantial than the one to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The conservative group is launching a $1.4 million ad buy on national cable and digital, with a particular focus on four states: Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia. The ad is expected to feature an introductory bio on the president’s yet-to-be-named Supreme Court nominee.
The campaign is set to launch “as soon as the nominee is announced,” according to Judicial Crisis Network.
Meanwhile, liberal groups already have pressured moderate senators to reject Trump’s eventual pick.
“This will be a 50-state campaign. Our members are fired up, our phones are ringing off the hook, and we are ready to fight this fight,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue recently told reporters.
Liberal groups are pressuring not only vulnerable Democrats like North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly to oppose Trump’s pick, but also moderate Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who have supported abortion rights.
Sources who talked to Trump on Sunday morning told Fox News that the president’s top two choices are Kavanaugh and Hardiman, though a GOP source said late Sunday that Barrett still has a good chance of being the pick.
Hardiman was the runner-up when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia last year. He also has a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump’s sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Samuel Chamberlain and Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.