President Donald Trump announced his pick to replace Justice Kennedy on Monday evening, July 9. He selected 53-year-old Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court, pending Congressional approval.
Kavanaugh currently serves on the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, often considered one of the most powerful courts in the nation outside of the Supreme Court. He worked for the Ken Starr investigation into President Bill Clinton but later expressed some regret, noting he doesn't think a sitting president should be subjected to civil or criminal suits while in office. Solidly conservative and a Constitutional originalist, he will give the court a firm conservative majority if approved. However, Kavanaugh also has expressed deference to previous Supreme Court decisions, which could signal a hesitation to fully overturn rulings on landmark cases including Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act.
With the narrowest of majorities in the Senate, many are keeping a close watch on Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) who are Roe v. Wade supporters and moderate Democrats up for re-election including Sens. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), and Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), who all supported Justice Neil Gorsuch during last year's confirmation process, to see how they vote.
Tennessee's senators offered the following comments after the announcement was made:
Sen. Lamar Alexander
"The president has nominated a well-qualified jurist. Unfortunately, the Senate has gotten into a bad habit of treating good people as 'innocent until nominated.' Instead, I hope this confirmation process will be conducted with dignity and respect so that we may learn more about Judge Kavanaugh's character, temperament and attitudes."
Sen. Bob Corker
"The Supreme Court plays a crucial role in our democracy, and the process of advice and consent on presidential nominations is one of the most serious responsibilities we have as United States senators," said Corker. "For more than 12 years, Judge Kavanaugh has served honorably on the federal bench, hearing critical cases before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a well-respected jurist who understands the importance of upholding the Constitution and applying the law in a fair and independent manner. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh during the confirmation process."