Judge Brett Kavanaugh has established a robust judicial record in his more than 12 years as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, often referred to as the second-most influential court in the country.
Seen as a dark horse to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, conservative groups, senators and opinion leaders made a case for Lee over the weekend.
Trump's success in confirming conservative judges, as well as a Supreme Court justice, has cheered Republicans amid concerns about his limited policy achievements and chaotic management style.
Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl has been tapped by the White House to guide President Trump's Supreme Court nominee through the Senate confirmation process. "And just like Justice Gorsuch, he excelled as a legal clerk for Justice Kennedy", Trump added. Some conservative activists have questioned whether he would rule sufficiently aggressively as a justice.
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.
Barrett spent much of her career as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and has served as a judge for eight months, which gives her the least experience of any of the potential nominees. "A judge must interpret statutes as written and a judge must interpret the constitution as written", Kavanaugh said during the ceremony in which he underscored his ties to his family and his Roman Catholic faith.
The White House noted Kyl served on the Senate Judiciary Committee "during the confirmations of 4 of the last 5 justices who have joined the Supreme Court". Three Democratic senators who voted for Gorsuch - Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of IN and Joe Manchin of West Virginia - are up for re-election IN states Trump won handily IN 2016. As an attorney, Kavanaugh worked for the special counsel investigating former President Bill Clinton, who was eventually impeached, and also worked for the Bush campaign during the 2000 presidential election recount. Kavanaugh in 2009 changed his tune on the Starr probe, arguing that presidents should be free from civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office. Barrett has said she believes life begins at conception. His final options were all young federal judges who could help remake the court for decades to come with precedent-shattering rulings on issues such as abortion, guns and health care. This isn't the first time he's helped nominees get through the Senate.
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Shah has paused his other White House duties to lead the yet-unnamed nominee through his or her confirmation.
Trump is hoping to replicate his successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch previous year. As a result, Democrats have accused Republicans of stealing a Supreme Court seat. Gorsuch restored the court's conservative majority.
Trump has previously said he wanted "pro-life" justices opposed to abortion rights.
A nominee needs a simple majority of 51 votes to be confirmed.
Kennedy's replacement also could be more willing to allow states to carry out executions and could support undoing earlier court holdings in the areas of racial discrimination in housing and the workplace.
Kavanaugh dissented in 2017 when his appeals court declined to reconsider its decision upholding "net neutrality" regulations implemented under Obama - and later rescinded under Trump - requiring internet providers to guarantee equal access to all web content. The court's senior liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is 85.