U.S. President Donald Trump (R) introduces Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court nominee at the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, on July 9, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday night nominated conservative federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who will retire end of the month. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)
WASHINGTON, July 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday night nominated conservative federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who will retire end of the month.
In a prime-time address from the White House, Trump introduced Kavanaugh as "a judge's judge."
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 interpret the constitution as written."
The 53-year-old was reportedly the frontrunner among four finalists, who included federal appeals judges Thomas Hardiman, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge. They were all part of a 25-name list vetted by conservative groups.
The announcement ended days of suspense following Kennedy's announcement late June that he would retire on July 31.
Since then, the president had been pondering his pick for the Supreme Court seat held by Kennedy. While repeatedly giving teasing details of the decision-making process in recent days, Trump offered little information about his thinking.
Kavanaugh has served as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006. Prior to that, he served in the George W. Bush administration, as an associate counsel and then subsequently as assistant to the president and staff secretary.
A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Kavanaugh clerked in the Supreme Court for Justice Kennedy and for judges of circuit courts of appeals. He also served as a counsel for the Office of Independent Counsel under Ken Starr and as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.
The nine-member Supreme Court decides matters that shape the country's politics. It is both the highest appeals panel and a constitutional court.
Kennedy, 81, is the court's current longest-serving member and second-oldest judge and is widely thought to be a moderate and pivotal swing vote between conservatives and liberals on the nine-member bench.
Liberal advocacy groups and others have voiced concerns that Trump's pick could move the already conservative-leaning court more solidly to the right and revisit landmark rulings on abortion access, same-sex marriage and other hot-button issues.
Democrats have focused on the nominee's view on the high court's monumental Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that guarantees women the right to have an abortion.
Among the Republican ranks, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate, has signaled that she could break with her party if Trump taps someone hostile to the ruling.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another moderate Republican who favors abortion rights, has said that her standards for a Supreme Court nominee are "extremely high."
Republicans have tried to seek support from Democrats.
Three Democratic senators, Indiana's Joe Donnelly, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia's Joe Manchin, were reportedly invited to the White House for Trump's nomination but the invitations were all declined.
All the three senators face tough re-election races this November in heavily Republican-leaning states that Trump won comfortably in 2016.
Nominating Kavanaugh was the second time in two years that Trump has made a Supreme Court pick.
He nominated Neil Gorsuch, seen as solidly conservative, to the court shortly after he took office early 2017. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate with a 54-45 vote months later.
The confirmation for Kavanaugh's nomination is expected to be contentious, with the Senate now narrowly divided, 51-49, in favor of Republicans.
The White House said Monday that former Senator Jon Kyl of the state of Arizona would guide Kavanaugh through the Senate confirmation process.