After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on July 2, President Trump quickly nominated U.S. circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace him on July 9. If approved by the Senate, Kavanaugh could be a key vote to swing the Supreme Court to a more conservative stance in future rulings.
Both Justice Kennedy’s retiring and Kavanaugh’s nomination have angered democrats, particularly after Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nomination to replace the late Justice Scalia, didn’t receive an approval hearing in the Republican controlled Senate after his March 16, 2016 nomination, because it was an election year. After his inauguration, Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch took Justice Scalia’s seat after almost a year of vacancy.
Justice Kennedy’s retirement was a surprise to many due to his fine health, and drew scrutiny due to the timing: less than halfway into Trump’s presidency. With now two opportunities to appoint Justices, President Trump will likely have a large impact on the future of the Supreme Court, particularly because the current Senate is Republican controlled.
Kavanaugh’s experience as White House Staff Secretary under George W. Bush, and his current position as circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia may help him be approved.
Kavanaugh has a history of conservative views on key issues, which likely will further help him be approved by the Republican controlled Senate. In his time as an appeals court judge, he dissented from a ruling allowing an undocumented minor to have an abortion, was critical of the EPA, and has leaned towards upholding the 2nd amendment in its entirety. In addition, in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article he claimed that “a law exempting a President -while in office- from criminal prosecution and investigation” should be considered by Congress.
Kavanaugh, with his experience and largely conservative views, will likely be approved by the Senate, which currently has a Republican majority. Many of his views also appear to line up with President Trump’s, so if he is approved and continues to vote in a similar manner, it would be a major win for Trump’s administration.
– Leah Vredenbregt