Monday night, President Donald Trump named Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court, describing the District of Columbia appeals court judge and former advisor to George W. Bush as a “brilliant jurist.”
Speaking from the podium in the East Room of the White House, the president said that a judge’s ability to execute his duties according to the law and Constitution, regardless of his political leaning, is what he admires the most in a justice.
“I am pleased to say that I have found, without a doubt, such a person,” Trump said, adding that there was “no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving.”
Trump further justified his choice by saying that Kavanaugh “has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.”
He called his 53-year-old nominee “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.”
The announcement, which was made amid much fanfare, was attended by First Lady Melania Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and a number of senators.
Kavanaugh’s entry was timed to near perfection as he entered the East Room with wife Ashley, and daughters Margaret and Liza, in between a rather extended pause Trump took after announcing the judge’s name. The entire charade looked so scripted.
Kavanaugh thanked the president for nominating him, saying that he was “humbled” and “deeply honored.”
“Throughout this process, I’ve witnessed first-hand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary,” he told Trump.
“No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” he said in praise of the president.
“I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic,” he said, pledging that if his nomination was confirmed by the Senate, he would “keep an open mind in every case and that he would “always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
“My judicial philosophy is straightforward: a judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history, and tradition and precedent,” Kavanaugh also said.
It didn’t take Trump too long after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement to narrow down his choices to four judges, including Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge, finally settling for Kavanaugh, as we now know.
Trump is believed to have made his decision on Sunday night, after which he, reportedly, called up the man himself to let him know of his decision, reported CNN, based on information given to the news channel by a senior White House official.
Trump also had a talk with Vice President Pence and White House Counsel Don McGahn, CNN said.
CBS News’ Kathryn Watson has rightly noted in her July 9 piece that the key to Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be in the hands of a “handful of moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats,” including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama), and Sen. Susan Collins(R-Maine), all of whom are still undecided on the president’s pick and “will await a review.”
Reactions to the president’s choice for the Supreme Court started coming in thick and fast following the Monday announcement.
“As the senator from West Virginia, I have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill Supreme Court vacancies and I take that responsibility seriously,” Sen. Manchin said in his statement.
“Just as I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I will evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare,” added the senator, who is readying for a tough re-election showdown in November.
George W. Bush was one of the first to comment on his former aide’s nomination, saying that Trump’s choice of Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court was an ‘outstanding decision.”
“Brett is a brilliant jurist who has faithfully applied the Constitution and laws throughout his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit. He is a fine husband, father, and friend – and a man of the highest integrity. He will make a superb justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” said the former president.
Sen. Collins, who could play a key role during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process also had good things to say about Trump’s nominee.
“Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Collins said in her statement.
“I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court justices whom I have considered,” said Collins.
“I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office,” she added.
Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, who is the Senate Majority Leader, also appears to be happy with Trump’s nomination, if his statement is anything to go by.
“President Trump has made a superb choice,” McConnell said, adding that Kavanaugh is an “impressive nominee who is extremely well qualified to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
“I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and to the Senate’s fair consideration of his nomination, beginning with the work of Chairman Grassley and the Judiciary Committee,” McConnell said.
“This is an opportunity for Senators to put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command,” said the Republican from Kentucky.
Not be left behind, the Democrats also went on record with their statements, most of which were, expectedly, against Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court.
Calling Kavanaugh’s nomination “a clear and disrespectful assault on the fundamental rights of women and on the quality, affordable health care of the American people,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Kavanaugh had a long history of opposing women empowerment.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s long history of opposition to the full, fundamental right of every woman to make her own decisions about her body, family, and healthcare poses a grave threat to women’s rights and to our founders’ promise of liberty and justice for all,” she said.
“If he proves as eager an executor of the president’s bitter campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade and sabotage Americans’ health care as his record suggests, a woman’s right to choose will be repealed and the health coverage and economic security of 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be in grave peril,” lamented the Democrat.
Expressing his disregard for far-right organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said that any nominee suggested by either of them would certainly not enjoy his support.
“If an individual from the list provided to candidate Donald Trump by far-right organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society is nominated, then I am highly unlikely to support that nominee,” he said.
“Justices who sit on the most important court in the world should not be selected by corporate interests and extreme right organizations,” Casey said.