Trump nominates conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to US Supreme Court

If confirmed, he will shift the court substantially to the right

Trump nominates conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to US Supreme Court

Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks after US President Donald Trump's nominated him to the US Supreme Court, 10-07-2018. Image: Ting Shen/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

US President Donald Trump has nominated appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court in a suspense-laden, primetime rollout.

It is a decision that could way out live the president himself – with his nominee boasting the potential to influence American society for decades to come.

Brett Kavanaugh is a Yale graduate, and a devout Catholic who clerked for the man he could replace.

If confirmed, he will shift the court substantially to the right - something President Trump promised to do.

Judge Kavanaugh's nomination is no great shock.

He was a frontrunner from the beginning and has stellar conservative credentials – a politically connected member of Washington's legal establishment, a federal appeals court judge, a former aide to President George W. Bush and a former investigator of President Bill Clinton.

He also has deep links with Republican groups who have been lobbying hard on getting more conservatives on the federal bench. In many ways, he is the classic DC insider.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who is retiring, is the man he could replace - a judge who often held the swing vote in many closely divided cases on abortion, gay rights and the death penalty.

Conservative

Judge Kavanaugh by comparison, recently voiced disagreement with a court decision allowing an undocumented teenage immigrant to have an abortion.

In 2009, he also wrote a law review article arguing that presidents should be shielded from criminal investigations and civil lawsuits while in office. That is something the Supreme Court may have to rule on as a result of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Whatever the issues, there is a powerful permanency about this selection process.

Unlike the revolving doors of the White House, only health and personal plans can determine the future of a Supreme Court judge.

Presidents dream of shaping history with these appointments - few can bank on it.

Yet in just 18 months, Donald Trump has the opportunity to secure another individual to sit in the highest court in the land, with far-reaching implications for America on everything from abortion to guns to immigration.

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks with protesters in front of the Supreme Court in Washington after President Trump announced his nomination, 09-07-2018. Image: Ting Shen/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

In a febrile and partisan climate though, the stage is set for a bruising confirmation battle.

You can expect weeks of political jousting. Democrats will use his lengthy legal opinions as ammunition to challenge him.

Some Republicans are said to be concerned about his Bush connections. But if the Republicans can stick together, the president's choice could be in place by October when the new term starts.

That could secure the conservative majority some have been campaigning 30 years for.