President Trump announces Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court nominee

President Donald Trump is nominating influential conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as he seeks to shift the nation’s highest court further to the right.

"Tonight I speak to you from the East Room of the White House," the president said.

Twelve days ago, Justice Kennedy told the president he was retiring. Thanking Kennedy, the president went on to say that it's the second time he's faced this task. He recalled nominating Neil Gorsuch to replace the late justice, Antonin Scalia.

What matters is whether the judge can do what the Constitution requires.

The president announced Brett Kavanaugh would be his Supreme Court nominee. There is no one more deserving, President Trump said.

The rule of law is our nation's proud heritage, the president said. It's what guarantees equal justice.

Kavanaugh was confirmed to his current position on the Court of Appeals for DC on May 26, 2006, about 12 years ago. The 53-year-old worked in the administration of each President Bush and also for independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation that eventually led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Kavanaugh thanked the president. No president has ever consulted more seek input about a Supreme Court nomination, Kavanaugh said.

The framers established that the Constitution is designed to secure the blessings of liberty, Kavanaugh said. He said he was "deeply honored" to fill Kennedy's seat on the court.

"My mom and dad are here. I am their only child," Kavanaugh said. He said he was lucky in that his mother was a teacher who taught at two largely African American schools in D.C. When he was 10 years old, he said, his mother went to law school.

Use your common sense, he said she counseled, about what rings true and what rings false.

The president may have introduced him as "Judge Kavanaugh," but Kavanaugh said that title would always belong to his mother.

A judge must interpret statutes and the Constitution as written, informed by tradition and precedent, Kavanaugh said. Separation of powers protects individual liberty.

Kavanaugh noted that the majority of his own law clerks have been women. He mentioned that he is a part of the Catholic community here.

He said he tried to create bonds with his daughters, coaching their basketball teams.

"Tomorrow, I begin meeting with members of the Senate," he said. If confirmed, he promised to keep an open mind in every case.

Kavanaugh, a graduate of Yale Law School, cut his teeth under former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who led the investigation that ultimately resulted in Clinton’s impeachment. Kavanaugh himself was a lead author of the controversial Starr Report.

A former Kennedy clerk, Kavanaugh is much loved in conservative legal circles as an originalist in the mold of Justice Clarence Thomas and former Justice Antonin Scalia.

Rising conservative star J.D. Vance, who wrote the best-selling Hillbilly Elegy, recently took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to make the case for Kavanaugh, who was one of his professors at Yale Law School.

“He is a committed textualist and originalist, one whose time on the bench has revealed a unique ability to apply these principles to legal facts,” Vance wrote. “He deeply believes in the constitutional separation of powers as a means for ensuring governmental accountability and protecting individual liberty. From the start of his career, he’s applied the Constitution faithfully, even when that made him a lonely voice. He has done so with particular tenacity on the issue that matters most to the president: taking power away from unelected bureaucrats and returning it to elected officials.”

More than any of the other finalists, Kavanaugh is a creature of Washington, having spent the vast majority of his career in the capital.

“In terms of his actual daily life, he’s a guy that does not live in a conservative bubble,” said Doug Gansler, the former Democratic Attorney General of Maryland and a friend and Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s. “He has liberal friends and spends time talking to his liberal friends about a variety of issues. But make no mistake about it, he’s a conservative guy.”

Kavanaugh was born in Washington and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. He and his wife Ashley, a former personal secretary to President George W. Bush, have two daughters.

According to the D.C. Circuit Court website, Kavanaugh serves meals with Catholic Charities in Washington and has tutored at Washington Jesuit Academy, where he sits on the board of directors, and at J.O. Wilson Elementary School. He’s also a fan of the Washington Nationals and coaches youth basketball, according to Gansler.

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