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Trump picks Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy on Supreme Court

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Trump picks Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy on Supreme Court

Then-District of Columbia Circut Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh attends a news conference with Senate GOP leadership in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC.

"We are close to making a decision", Trump said.

"He's a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style, universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time".

With reality television-style suspense, he had kept everyone guessing up until the last moment.

Kavanaugh, 53, had always been mentioned in Washington chatter as a potential high court choice by a Republican president because of his educational background, intellectual firepower and an unyielding commitment to a legal approach championed by conservative Supreme Court justices such as Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Relishing the guessing game beyond the White House gates, Trump had little to say about his choice before the announcement. Throughout this process I have witnessed firsthand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary.

The nomination is Trump's second to the nation's highest court, a rare presidential privilege that could seal a key part of Trump's legacy less than two years into his first term.

Hardiman has a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump's sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. He also worked on independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton.

Kethledge, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, is a former Kennedy clerk and a former in-house lawyer at Ford Motor Co.

"Judge Kavanaugh routinely rules against working families, regularly rejects the right of employees to receive employer-provided health care in the workplace, too often sides with employers in denying employees relief from discrimination in the workplace and promotes overturning well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent", said the AFL-CIO in a press release. "I hope the Senate will swiftly fulfill their Constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent by confirming this eminently qualified judge to the Supreme Court", Curtis said in a statement. "It's about what country the United States of America is going to chart as its course in the future on this Supreme Court".

On abortion, Kavanaugh voted in October to delay an abortion for a teenage immigrant who was in government custody.

Each of the nine justices serves a lifetime appointment.

All of the candidates are relatively young and could help shape legal doctrine on the high court for decades to come.

His appointment will not change the ideological tilt of a court that already has a 5-4 conservative majority, but he could nevertheless shift the bench further right.

The nomination, 12 days after the retirement of Mr Kennedy, gives Republicans their best chance in decades at securing a five-member majority (out of nine) in the highest court in the USA and power to shape legal battles over guns, immigration, the environment and civil rights. But Judge Kavanaugh may not be so accommodating.

It also underlines that the decision by McConnell to refuse to confirm President Barack Obama's pick for the court, Judge Merrick Garland, before the 2016 election, that could have led to a liberal majority, as one of the most far-reaching gambits in recent political history.

The front-runner was a front-runner for a reason. In the end, however, the safe pick won out. In conservative circles, for example, he has been keelhauled as a reckless judicial activist who "invented" a right to gay marriage.

The nominee will need at least 50 votes in the Senate, which Republicans now hold a slim advantage at 51 seats.

The Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society are also readying resources to ensure a nominee is confirmed. With the expected absence of Republican senator John McCain due to brain cancer, Republicans only have 50 votes.

Kavanaugh expressed his gratitude and said he was humbled by the president's confidence in him.

All eyes on which senators?

In preparing for the unveiling, Trump aides are inviting senators who will vote on the nominee to the White House ceremony, including moderate Democrats who will be targeted as possible yes votes.

For starters, Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $1.4 million ad buy on national cable and digital, with a particular focus on four states: Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

A Democrat in a state which voted overwhelmingly for Trump two years ago, Donnelly is up for re-election this year. Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who support abortion rights, are the Republicans considered most likely oppose a nominee deemed too conservative.

Before retiring in 2013, Kyl was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be the first to consider the nomination.

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