Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh as a replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy in a televised announcement on Monday night, less than two weeks after Kennedy announced his retirement — is part of an expedited effort by Republicans to confirm a new justice before the midterm elections in November.
Trump wrestled with Kavanaugh’s past involvement in George W. Bush’s Administration, according to the New York Times. Trump criticized Bush during his presidential campaign and frequently clashed with his son, Jeb, during the Republican primaries.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also cautioned the president and his advisors against Kavanaugh. In a series of phone calls, he warned that Kavanaugh would face a more difficult confirmation battle than the other contenders on Trump’s shortlist.
Kavanaugh clerked for Anthony Kennedy and reportedly remains close to the justice. Kavanaugh was tapped by Bush for the D.C. Circuit Court in 2003, but Democrats stalled his appointment for three years, arguing that he was too partisan. Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination … is not just a drop of salt in the partisan wounds, it is the whole shaker.” Kavanaugh disagreed, saying “I firmly disagree with the notion that there are Republican judges and [Democratic] judges. There is one kind of judge. There is an independent judge under our Constitution.” Only four Democrats voted to confirm him.
Kavanaugh has faced criticism from conservatives who say he may be too moderate. In particular, some have taken issue with his ruling on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, arguing that it provided a roadmap to the Supreme Court’s later decision to uphold the law. They also worried that he did not go as far as another conservative judge in his abortion ruling.
Some conservatives are also concerned about Kavanaugh’s involvement in the Bill Clinton investigation, during which he argued that Clinton could be impeached for lying to his employees and misleading the public. With the ongoing Russia investigation, this line of reasoning could be damaging to Trump.
Some Democrats have already begun speaking against Kavanaugh. Chuck Schumer tweeted last week that Kavanaugh would be a poor check on presidential power and noted that he had historically sided with powerful interest groups.
For more: Time