As promised by Donald Trump, on Monday evening he made his selection of his second Supreme Court of the United States nominee. With less drama and pomp than happened in 2017 when Neil Gorsuch was announced, Trump, after speaking about the importance of the task of naming a Supreme Court justice, announced that he had selected Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh, in a statement reminding one in small part of a bachelor accepting a rose on The Bachelorette, thanked Trump, stating fawningly, ““No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people for more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” We don’t have full insight into the process but let us recall that the list of twenty-five potential nominees was not put together by Trump, but by conservative groups who vetted all these candidates. Furthermore, as someone who writes frequently about the Supreme Court and has studied it extensively, that is just not a statement likely to hold water.
Kavanaugh has been scored by FiveThirtyEight, and its Judicial Common Space score is slightly left of Justice Thomas, the most conservative member of the Court. The common score is not based necessarily on judicial decisions, but on the nomination process and other factors. But Kavanaugh likely will be to the right of Chief Justice Roberts, who will become a “swing vote” in a Court that will not have much swing to it.
Kavanaugh stated in his 2006 confirmation hearing, which was delayed for several years due to deep concerns about him (including his involvement in President George W. Bush’s detention policy), that he would he “would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully” and that the legality of abortion has already “been decided by the Supreme Court.” Despite this, in the recent unaccompanied minor case, he was part of a panel who issued an opinion ruling that she could be prevented from an abortion.
Daniel Cotter is a lawyer writing and teaching about SCOTUS, and married father of two boys living in Chicago, Illinois.