President Donald Trump stood in the East Room of the White House Monday night with his eagerly anticipated pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy: Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Shortly after 9 p.m. Eastern, Trump emerged to announce Judge Kavanaugh, 53, as the winner of the last week’s closely watched horse race. That race began with a shortlist of 25 winnowing down to four, then saw Judges Raymond Kethledge and Amy Barrett fall out of contention in the late running, and ended with a photo finish as Kavanaugh pulled ahead of Judge Thomas Hardiman.
“For more than four decades, Justice Kennedy served our country with incredible passion and devotion,” Trump said, thanking the retiring Justice for his service. He then introduced Maureen Scalia, the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s widow, and Edwin Meese, Ronald Reagan’s attorney general who played a major role in shaping President Reagan’s judicial nominations.
“In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions, what matters is 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 doubt, such a person,” the president said before he announced Kavanaugh’s entrance from stage right. “Tonight it is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate Judge Brett…