WASHINGTON -- President Trump is nominating Brett Kavanaugh, an appeals court judge who worked in the Bush White House, as the next Supreme Court nominee.

  • Judge Brett Kavanaugh is the Supreme Court nominee
  • Federal appeals court judge appointed by George W. Bush

The president made his second nomination in less than two years, following Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement announcement on June 27.

Brett Kavanaugh, 53, has served on the District of Columbia's Circuit Court of Appeals for over a decade.

He worked in George W. Bush's White House and for Ken Starr, when Starr was investigating Bill Clinton.

President Trump said Kavanaugh was known in legal circles as a "Judge's Judge."

"Judge Kavanaugh has earned a reputation as a brilliant jurist with impeccable legal credentials, and he is universally respected for his intellect, as well as his ability to persuade and build consensus," the White House said in a statement.


A graduate of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh is considered a conservative Catholic who admired late justice Antonin Scalia, who could prove influential in shifting the balance of power in the Supreme Court more to the right.

But some conservatives do believe he is not conservative enough, particularly in relation to abortion and the Affordable Care Act. 

Kavanaugh has to get past the Senate now. He has a lengthy record, both as a judge and in his political ties with the Bush White House. The Senate will have to go through that.

Kavanaugh also had a tough confirmation for DC appeals court. He was originally nominated in 2003, but Democrats held up the confirmation because of Kavanaugh's ties to the Bush White House. There were fewer Democrats in the Senate than there are now.

Because Republican Senator John McCain has been on medical leave since December, Republicans can only afford to lose one of their own if every Senate Democrat votes against the nominee.

For Kavanaugh's part, he says that he will make sure every senator knows that he reveres the Constitution.

"A judge must be independent, it must interpret the law, not make the law," Kavanaugh said. "I teach that the Constitution's separation of powers protects individual liberty."


Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, issued a diplomatic statement that made clear the issues he will focus on with Kavanaugh.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, issued a more effusive statement.

“Brett Kavanaugh is a qualified, mainstream jurist who possesses the right temperament and experience for the position, and I’m pleased to see his nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court," Rubio said.

“My decision on whether to ultimately support Kavanaugh’s nomination will be based on his commitment to original intent, judicial restraint, and the understanding that the Supreme Court is a ‘trier of law’ appellate court and not a ‘trier of fact’ trial court," he added. "This is critically important because too many in the federal judicial system today believe it is appropriate for judges to craft new policies and rights instead of interpreting and defending the Constitution as written."