Brett Kavanaugh

President Donald Trump (R) will nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kavanaugh would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his resignation last month. Kennedy was a moderate justice, often serving as a tiebreaker between the “conservative” and “liberal” wings of the court. Kavanaugh is generally viewed as a nonpartisan and pragmatic conservative. He is a proponent of textualism, which is the judicial philosophy that the Constitution should be applied as written and not continually reinterpreted as a “living” document. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would shift the ideological balance of the court from essentially tied to a narrow conservative majority.

Kavanaugh worked as a law clerk for Judge Walter King Stapleton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Later, he clerked for Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh served as an associate counsel for the Office of Independent Counsel under Kenneth Starr during the investigation of President Bill Clinton (D), and later as both legal counsel and assistant to President George W. Bush (R). He was nominated by Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003, but the nomination stalled in the Senate. He was eventually confirmed following a 57-36 vote in the Senate in 2006. He was sworn-in by Kennedy, the justice who he is now being nominated to replace.

Following efforts in 2017 by Democratic senators to filibuster Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch, the Senate invoked the “nuclear option” and expanded the rules already prohibiting the filibustering of lower judicial nominees so they would also apply to Supreme Court nominations. Accordingly, Kavanaugh’s nomination will be subject to a straight up-or-down vote after being brought before the Senate.