President Donald Trump has picked Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, setting the stage for a bruising confirmation battle.
In a primetime announcement at the White House, President Trump praised Brett Kavanaugh as a “brilliant jurist”.
Brett Kavanaugh, a District of Columbia appeals court judge, is a former adviser to ex-President George W. Bush.
The decision has far-reaching implications for America on everything from abortion to guns to immigration.
This is President Trump’s second Supreme Court appointment, potentially allowing him to shape the US for a generation.
Donald Trump said: “Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.”
The nominee would replace 81-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced last month that he will retire soon.
Brett Kavanaugh, 53, thanked President Trump and said he had “witnessed firsthand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary.”
He has served since 2006 on the influential US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was formerly a White House aide under President George W. Bush.
Brett Kavanaugh previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
The Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter on contentious laws and disputes between states and the federal government.
The highest court rules on such issues as abortion, the death penalty, voter rights, immigration policy, campaign finance and racial bias in policing.
Each of the nine justices holds a lifetime appointment. As Brett Kavanaugh is relatively young, he could serve for decades to come.
Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment will not change the ideological tilt of a court that already has a 5-4 conservative majority, but he could shift the bench further to the right.
Justice Anthony Kennedy sometimes sided with the court’s liberal members. However, Brett Kavanaugh may not be so accommodating.
Neil Gorsuch, 50, who was appointed by President Trump in 2017, is already one of the court’s most conservative justices.
Brett Kavanaugh must be confirmed by the Senate, which the Republicans narrowly controls 51-49.
A nominee needs a simple majority of 51 votes to be confirmed. With Senator John McCain battling cancer, Republicans can currently only muster 50 votes.
Before a full vote in the chamber, the prospective justice will be grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee in hearings that can go on for days.
The White House and Republicans want the nomination confirmed by November’s mid-term elections.