By Daniel J. McLaughlin
The Donald Trump reality television programme continues. In the previous episode, the US president reverted back to his Apprentice days, teasing his latest appointment. "Tune in next time, folks, to found out who Trump is going to pick for the Supreme Court."
It is an appointment that will change the fabric of the Supreme Court long after Trump has left the White House. His administration may only last four to eight years, depending on his re-election, but the aftershock from the political earthquake will be felt for generations after.
Justices appointed to the Supreme Court last for life - or until they choose to quit. A seat was left vacated by Anthony Kennedy who announced his retirement from the highest court in the United States. This allowed Trump to select his second appointment in his presidency, and shift the Supreme Court further rightwards. It allows the president to cement a 5-4 majority on the court for conservatives.
With viewers poised to found out who it is, Trump announced his pick in the East Room of the White House on Monday night: Brett Kavanaugh.
There are two consequential facts about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the Washington Post argues, and they are two numbers: 53 and 27. Kavanaugh is 53-years-old, and the average life expectancy of the US male is another 27 years added on top.
"That means Kavanaugh can be expected to play a major role in our lives for at least two decades — probably two and a half, given that justices tend to hang on into their eighties. His elevation to the high court will affect me, my children and my grandchildren," the Post writes.
What about Kavanaugh's credentials? He is a District of Columbia appeals court judge, who served as an adviser to former president George W. Bush. When Bush Jr. was selecting his choice for a Supreme Court seat in 2005, he would have turned to his young staff lawyer at the time for advise, CNN notes. He has now come the full circle.
They call him a "classic Washington insider" with a "deep conservative legal record, persuasive style and engaging demeanor". His 12-year record on the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia places him to the right of the retiring Kennedy, who was known for his swing vote.
The Independent argues that Kavanaugh, who has lived around Washington DC virtually for his whole life, is "the embodiment of the Republican legal establishment". He is an Ivy Leaguer, something Trump was vocal about in his announcement ("teaches at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown!”), who worked for the justice he has been nominated to replace. Kavanaugh also investigated a Democratic president, working for independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
He was missing from Trump's first and second lists of potential nominees when he was selecting a replacement for the late Antonin Scalia - the president would later choose Neil Gorsuch. Why? "He was a product of Washington, DC, from the day he was born, and the renegade president wanted an outsider," USA Today argues. On paper, they add, he may be one of the most qualified nominee in generations, viewed as a Supreme Court justice-in-waiting. However, the baggage of Bush nearly cost him the nod.
Brett Kavanaugh's nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, which the Republicans narrowly control 51-49. Although, with Senator John McCain out due to his battle with cancer, the Republicans can only muster 50 votes. Before a full vote, he will take questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee - the hearings could last days. According to the BBC, the White House and Republicans want the nomination confirmed by November's mid-term elections.