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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - President Donald Trump announced Monday night he is nominating D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, taking the empty seat left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"Judge Kavanaugh has devoted his life to public service," Trump said, noting his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and his 200+ written opinions. "There is no one in American more qualified for this position and no one more deserving."
Trump asked senators to unite to bring about a swift confirmation. "I want to thank the senators on both side of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, for their consultation during the selection process," the president said. "This nominee deserves a swift confirmation ... and bipartisan support."
Kavanaugh, a Catholic, was on a list of 25 candidates compiled for President Trump by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. Only two days after the announcement of Kennedy's retirement on June 27, Trump declared he would announce his pick on July 9. Then, on July 6, he revealed the list was shortened to three candidates, naming Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Raymond Kethledge. A fourth nominee came up at the last minute: Thomas Hardiman.
Taking the podium, Kavanaugh thanked the president and noted Justice Kennedy's years of distinguished service, whose shoes he would have to fill. He also thanked his parents, present in the audience. Noting the motto of his Jesuit high school, "Men for others," he said he has "tried to live that creed."
"My judicial philosophy is straightforward," Kavanaugh said. "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 interpet the Constitution as written."
He also touched on his Catholic faith: "I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area. The members of that community disagree about many things but we are united by a commitment to serve."
"Father John Enzler is here," he added." Forty years ago, I was an altar boy for Fr. John. These days I help him serve meals for the homeless at Catholic Charities."
His wife and two daughters, Margaret and Liza, were present. "I thank God every day for my family," Kavanaugh said, praising his daughters, whose basketball team he coaches, as well as his wife, whom he met when both were working in the White House in 2001. The Supreme Court nominee said his wife's strength helped President George W. Bush and other staffers get through the difficult weeks following the attacks on 9/11.
Looking ahead to his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh said, "I will tell each senator that I revere the Constitution. I believe an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our republic. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, I will keep an open mind in every case, and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution in every case and the American rule of law."
A graduate of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2003 by George W. Bush, but Senate Democrats delayed his confirmation for nearly three years.
Before that, he was involved in the 1993 Vince Foster death investigation and assisted the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Afterward, from 1993–94 he clerked for Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh has not ruled in any cases involving abortion or gay so-called marriage, something conservatives hope the Supreme Court will revisit.
Since the announcement of Kennedy's retirement on June 27, both Democrats and Republicans are seeing the Supreme Court vacancy as one of the most significant appointments in years, which could shape the course of the judicial landscape for decades.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is asking Republicans to delay the vote on Kavanaugh after November midterm elections, asserting, "The American [people] should have a voice," but Republicans have said they are hoping Kavanaugh will be appointed before that.
Approximately 56 percent of Trump voters maintain his Supreme Court appointments were the most important factor. His first appointment, Neil Gorsuch, was appointed in April 2017 and has largely voted according to the expectations of conservatives.
Given the current breakdown of the U.S. Senate, however, Kavanaugh's confirmation may be difficult to achieve. Despite the fact he has not ruled on any cases touching abortion, Senate Democrats may united to block the nomination, and while pro-abortion Republicans like Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska may refuse to confirm someone they believe might overturn Roe v. Wade. Additionally, campaigns by Rand Paul denouncing Kavanaugh may also make it difficult to rally Republican support behind Trump's nominee.