After Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement at the end of June, President Donald Trump pledged to nominate a replacement by today, July 9th. Over the past week, rumors have flown about who the president would choose, with the field reportedly narrowed to four top contenders. And now, Trump has announced his top pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy — D.C. District Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
During a primetime announcement from the White House, Trump said of Kavanaugh,
According to Politico, Kavanaugh is a graduate of Yale Law School who served as a clerk to retiring Justice Kennedy. He was appointed to the appellate court by President George W. Bush in 2006 — after three controversial years of hearings — and in the ’90s he worked as a lawyer for Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr, whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment.
Kennedy, who Kavanaugh would replace, was often the Supreme Court’s swing vote — the court currently has four justices considered to be more liberal, and four more conservative — and many abortion rights advocates feared that his retirement would alter the court’s makeup, paving the way for the landmark Roe v. Wade decision to be overturned.
As the Washington Post reported, Kavanaugh ruled against an undocumented, pregnant immigrant, 17, who sought an abortion in the United States in the 2017 Garza v. Hagan case. Kavanaugh argued that the majority was opening up the opportunity for “immediate abortion on demand” to undocumented immigrants. He has also voted against the regulation of semiautomatic weapons, net neutrality, and environmental regulations, so needless to say, he’s expected to vote conservatively.
Of course, Kavanaugh still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. To become a justice, he will need 51 votes in his favor — exactly the number of sitting Republican senators, though Sen. John McCain has been home in Arizona following treatment for brain cancer and it’s unclear whether he’ll return to vote on Trump’s nominee.
According to Vox, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who have opposed Trump in the past, could vote against Kavanaugh and prevent his confirmation; McCain might vote against Kavanaugh, too, though he voted in favor of Trump’s previous Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch. But on the flip side, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, and Heidi Heitkamp are running for reelection in red states that went for Trump in 2016, so it’s possible they might vote to approve Kavanaugh.
We still don’t know what Kavanaugh will do as a justice, or if he will be confirmed. But rest assured we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more updates about this Supreme Court nominee.