President Trump announced his selection of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be his second Supreme Court justice Monday night. Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the president said that what mattered to him was "not a judge's political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require."
"I am pleased to say that I have found, without a doubt, such a person," he said in announcing Kavanaugh's nomination. "There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," the president also said.
The D.C. Circuit Appeals Court judge "has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and aproven commitment to equal justice under the law," the president continued. He's "a judge's judge, a true thought leader among his peers. 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."
Kavanaugh thanked the president for the nomination, and in anticipating his coming meetings with senators on Capitol Hill tomorrow, said, "I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic." He promised, "If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law."
Within a few days of Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement that he would retire from the court this summer, Mr. Trump had narrowed the field tofour: Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge -- all young and all viewed as conservative. Ultimately, the president settled on Kavanaugh, the establishment favorite.
By Monday afternoon, he had finalized his decision, sources confirmed to CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford.
Updates of President Trump's Supreme Court pick appear below:
Schumer says he'll oppose Kavanaugh nomination
Sen. Chuck Schumer told "CBS This Morning" Tuesday that he will work to oppose President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with "everything I've got", adding that he's confident there will be a majority in the Senate that will do the same.
"President Trump with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh has fulfilled two of his campaign promises -- first to undo women's reproductive freedom and second to undo the ACA (Affordable Care Act)," Schumer said.
Brett Kavanaugh accepts nomination
Kavanaugh thanked the president. No president has ever consulted more widely...to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination, Kavanaugh said.
The framers established that the Constitution is designed to secure the blessings of liberty, Kavanaugh said. He said he was "deeply honored" to fill Kennedy's seat on the court.
With his wife and two daughters standing beside him, Judge Kavanaugh shared a little bit about his background and praised his parents for his upbringing.
"My mom and dad are here. I am their only child," Kavanaugh said. He said he was lucky in that his mother was a teacher who taught at two largely African American high schools in D.C. When he was 10 years old, he said, his mother went to law school and became a prosecutor. It was she who introduced him to law, he said, practicing her closing arguments at the dinner table.
"Use your common sense" was her trademark line. "What rings true? What rings false?" It was, he said, good advice for jurors and sons alike.
The president may have introduced him as "Judge Kavanaugh," but Kavanaugh said that title would always belong to his mother.
A judge must interpret statutes and the Constitution as written, informed by tradition and precedent, Kavanaugh said. Separation of powers protects individual liberty.
Kavanaugh noted that the majority of his own law clerks have been women. He mentioned that he is a part of the Catholic community here.
He said he tried to create bonds with his daughters, coaching their basketball teams.
"Tomorrow, I begin meeting with members of the Senate," he said. If confirmed, he promised to keep an open mind in every case.
Senators decline invitation to SCOTUS announcement
The president will be trying to win the votes of moderates for his nominee, in particular, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine to support his nominee, as well as the three Democrats who voted yes on Neil Gorsuch, his first nominee, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. He invited the three Democrats and Collins to the White House, CBS News' Ed O'Keefe and Alan He report. The senators all declined.
"While I appreciate the invitation from the White House to attend this evening's announcement, I declined so that I can meet first with the nominee in a setting where we can discuss his or her experience and perspectives," Donnelly said in a statement. "In the coming days, I will be reviewing the record and qualifications of the president's nominee."
Heitkamp said through a spokesperson, "She has made clear - as she said to the president in person two weeks ago - that she considers fully vetting Supreme Court nominees one of the most important jobs of any U.S. senator, and she plans to fulfill that critical duty."
Early opposition to Trump's nominee
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania released a statement even before Mr. Trump released his pick, announcing that he will oppose the president's Supreme Court nominee -- no matter who it is.
"I will oppose the nomination the President will makes tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far Right, big corporations, and Washington special interests."
The announcement prompted reaction from White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah who tweeted, "Unfortunate (though not surprising) that even before his or her qualifications can be evaluated, Sen. Casey is refusing to even consider the President's #SCOTUS nominee."
Justice Kennedy's key swing votes
For three decades on a divided Supreme Court, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy was often the swing vote who determined the fate of monumental cases.
Here are some of the key cases he decided:
Gay marriage: Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015
Kennedy was in the 5-4 majority that decided in June 2015 the Constitution that guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. The decision invalidated all existing bans on same-sex marriage across the country and solidified the rights of individuals in all 50 states to wed. It was Kennedy who authored the majority opinion.
Abortion: Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992
In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court was poised to overturn the essence of Roe v. Wade -- but Kennedy sided with the plurality who deemed the state is generally banned from prohibiting most abortions. He decided to affirm the "essential holding," aka the basic principle, of Roe v. Wade.
Corporate spending in elections: Citizens United v. FEC, 2010
Kennedy sided with the court's conservatives to rule that the government cannot limit corporate spending in elections under the First Amendment. The ruling, which both conservative and liberal groups have taken advantage of in election cycles since, has certainly made a lasting impact in politics. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in that 5-4 decision.
Affirmative action: Fisher v. University of Texas, 2016
For the first time in his career, Kennedy sided in favor of affirmative action in a 2016 case in which the Court rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin. The 4-3 decision, in which Kennedy sided with the majority, determined that such a program is legal under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The country's highest court upheld the decision of Fifth Circuit court.
Congress reacts to Supreme Court nomination
Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, told reporters on Capitol Hill that he wouldn't make any predictions, but he did say that the confirmation fight would "take a lot of oxygen" in the Senate.
"I hope I'm wrong but I suspect this is going to be a rough tough down in the dirt ear pulling nose biting fight," Kennedy said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CBS News' Nancy Cordes that any of the four candidates would be great justices, and he expects the eventual nominee to sail through their confirmation hearing and vote.
"As my friend Lindsey Graham said yesterday, he said it's as if we have four winning lottery tickets, each could be a great Supreme Court justice in their own right. And so I am pretty, pretty excited," said Cornyn.
Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said that based off the president's list, it's "near impossible" to selected a nominee who isn't hostile to the Affordable Care Act and women's reproductive rights.
"Whoever the president selects tonight, if that is from the pre-approved list, everyone ought to understand what it means for the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions and for the protection of Americans with preexisting conditions, those rights will be gravely threatened," said Schumer.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is a member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would be "happy with any of the four" likely Supreme Court finalists, but says "there's a part of me that would like to see a woman appointed to the court, especially a conservative woman like Amy Coney Barrett because she's just excellent."
He also spoke highly of Hardiman and Kavanaugh, describing Kavanaugh as "politically very astute, honest, decent, good looking -- he's got it all!"
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to slam far-left criticism of Mr. Trump's picks, saying no matter who is selected, the nominee will face "unfair tactics" in the confirmation process.
"Expect to hear how they'll destroy equal rights or demolish American health care or ruin our country in some other fictional way," said McConnell, objecting to some liberals' "blanket opposition" to anyone the president may name.
"Destruction of the Constitution? Please, give the American people some credit. This far-left rhetoric comes out every single time, but the apocalypse never comes. Americans see beyond this far-left fear mongering. This kind of fear mongering they've tried over and over again for 40 years. Senators should do the same, we should evaluate this president's nominee fairly, based on his or her qualifications and treat the process with respect and dignity that it deserves," he added.
Once the president made his announcement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts took to Twitter to voice her dissent saying she'll "vote no" and "it's time to fight" because the nomination requires a Senate majority vote.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, also took to Twitter blasting President Trump's nominee selection stating, "In selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block."
Senator John McCain tweeted praise for Kavanaugh's nomination.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, voiced her opposition on Twitter.
Leonard Leo on Trump pick
Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, who helped craft the list of potential supreme court candidates for Mr. Trump, told "CBS This Morning" on Monday that the president wants to get his pick "right" like he did with Neil Gorsuch.
"He spent a pretty significant amount of time over the weekend asking questions, talking to people, thinking about this further," Leo said. "This is a really big decision for him. As you may remember, he spent a good part of his campaign talking about this issue; this was a big reason why people voted for him."
Leo told CBS that Mr. Trump is focusing on a candidate that is "extraordinarily well-qualified" as well as "someone who's going to be courageous, independent and fair."
Who is top contender?
CBS News' Jan Crawford told CBSN that while there may not be one clear "slam dunk" nominee, Judges Kethledge and Hardiman might be easier to be confirmed more quickly than the other candidates Mr. Trump is considering to fill the vacant seat.
Crawford says that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, had reiterated to the White House that the president is still in the Republican party which controls both the House and Senate and that now is the time to "go bold" with his pick.
As for who might be a front runner, Judge Kavanaugh continues to check off all the boxes for Mr. Trump with his elite qualifications but that his confirmation process could potentially take longer. Crawford says Kavanaugh is seen as a "real intellectual force as a conservative legal thinker on the court" making him the ideal pick to go head to head with someone like Justice Elena Kagan on the bench.
Hardiman and Barrett, meanwhile, would be the only nominees outside the Ivy League, bringing some diversity on the court.
The nuclear option
When President Trump announces his replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Friday night, his nominee will only need 51 votes in the U.S. Senate to be confirmed.
But for the vast majority of American history, nominees for nation's highest court effectively needed at least 60 votes, which often required some bipartisan support for the president's pick. Otherwise, a filibuster could hold up a nomination indefinitely.
Even though Mr. Trump's new nominee won't have to get 60 votes because of the nuclear option, getting to 51 might still be a struggle. Most -- though not all -- Democrats appear dead set against confirming anyone Mr. Trump nominates, and Republicans only have 51 votes there to begin with.
This means that Republicans will likely have to stay united in supporting Mr. Trump's pick, which could get complicated if moderate GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins feel the nominee is too conservative, particularly on abortion rights.
Trump's final decision
Mr. Trump made his final decision Monday afternoon, sources confirmed to CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford. On Sunday, the president told reporters he would have a final decision "sometime by 12" on Monday.
He has given no indication publicly about his choice, tweeting that "the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice - Will be announced tonight at 9:00 P.M."
His first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was not leaked before the president announced the name, and by Monday evening, his second nominee was also not known.
Kavanaugh is still young at 53, but has extensive experience on the bench. The Yale Law School graduate has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006. Through the years, he has issued scores of opinions, dissents and concurrences. He clerked for Kennedy, the man he would be replacing. And he gained attention from his time working for former independent counsel Ken Starr during the investigation into then-President Bill Clinton. He is the only one of the top three with a law degree from an Ivy League school.
Kavanaugh has a track record of siding with religious organizations over governments and other groups that challenge them, a particularly attractive trait to conservatives. In Priests for Life v. HHS, Kavanaugh declared the Obamacare contraceptive mandate violated constitutional rights to religious liberty.
On the issue of abortion -- key for many conservatives -- Kavanaugh dissented from a recent ruling requiring an undocumented immigrant minor who wanted an abortion to be granted access to one. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision by a three-judge panel of the same court that included Kavanaugh.
Jon Kyl named Supreme Court "sherpa"
White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement that former Sen. Jon Kyl "has agreed to serve as the Sherpa for the President's nominee to the Supreme Court." Kyl was Senator for Arizona for 18 years from 1995 to 2013. He served on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmations of 4 of the last 5 justices who have joined the Supreme Court.
Sherpas to the nominee will act as a guide during the confirmation process -- helping to set up meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and preparing for the eventual confirmation hearing.
How did we get here? Justice Kennedy resignation
Mr. Trump is filling the vacant seat left by Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy who announced he would retire from the highest court on the final day of Supreme Court decisions for this year's term.
In a letter, he told Mr. Trump that effective July 31, he would end "regular active status as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, while continuing to serve in a senior status."
Kennedy called it the "highest of honors to serve on this Court," and he expressed his "profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises."
President Trump's potential Supreme Court nominees:
Kethledge, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Michigan. Like Kavanaugh, 51-year-old Kethledge clerked for Kennedy.
As Mr. Trump often touts the need to protect the Second Amendment, Kethledge is known for his defense of that amendment. In 2016 in Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriff's Department, for instance, Kethledge joined a concurring opinion holding that a federal statute permanently prohibiting a person who had been involuntarily committed nearly three decades before from owning a gun was unconstitutional.
Kethledge's job has given him an opportunity to issue opinions on a number of immigration cases, in a time when Mr. Trump's approach to immigration could very well land more cases in the highest court in the land.
Amy Coney Barrett
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Monday that he has spoken with the president about his Supreme Court nominee, and he does not believe it will be Barrett. "I don't think she's going to be the one who's chosen this time," he said, according to the Associated Press. He told reporters he's "pretty sure" who the pick is, but wouldn't "give something up."
At 46, Barrett is the youngest of the president's top contenders-- an advantage for conservatives who want a Trump appointee to serve as long as possible on the land's highest court. If selected and confirmed, Barrett would be the only conservative female justice. The current female justices on the court have been nominated by Democratic presidents and are considered liberal.
Potentially working against Barrett is her relatively short tenure in federal court. The Notre Dame Law School graduate has only served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since fall 2017. Because she has served on the bench for such a short period of time, she has few opinions to dissect that could offer insight into her judicial philosophy and predict potential future positions.
Before serving on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett, a mother of seven, was a professor at Notre Dame Law School.
Barrett, a Catholic, is considered reliably socially conservative, and conservatives consider her as someone who will faithfully uphold principles of religious liberty from the bench.
Hardiman has an appealing life story -- the first person in his family to go to college, he attended the University of Notre Dame as an undergraduate and then later financed his law degree at the Georgetown University by driving a taxi. If confirmed, Hardiman would be the only justice on the court who did not attend Harvard or Yale Law School.
He became a federal district judge at 37 years of age and was appointed to the 3rd Circuit in 2007. And Hardiman just celebrated his 53rd birthday July 8.
Hardiman has sided with jails seeking to strip-search inmates arrested for even minor offenses, and he has also supported gun rights. He dissented in a 2013 case that upheld a New Jersey law to strengthen requirements for carrying a handgun in public.