On Monday night, President Trump named his second nominee for the Supreme Court: 53-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, an experienced judge that pleased some conservatives, nonplussed others and sent Democrats to their battle stations, fearing the conservative jurist will overturn Roe v. Wade. Here’s what we know about Kavanaugh and his record so far:
1. He is conservative (but not enough for some conservatives)
A longtime George W. Bush staffer and D.C. native, “Kavanaugh is considered a pragmatic but conservative judge, who believes in textualism and originalism,” says NPR. He has written opinions that could be interpreted as anti-abortion (see #5) and against the Affordable Care Act. But some conservatives consider those same opinions too liberal: In a ruling about Obamacare, he recognized it as a tax, the same logic the Supreme Court used to uphold it as legal, irking the right wing. Kavanaugh, 53, is married with two daughters and is a practicing Catholic.
2. Brett Kavanaugh has extensive experience on the bench
Kavanaugh is a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, kind of a farm team for future Supreme Court justices. Ruth Bader Ginsburg came from there; so did Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee whom Senate Republicans blocked. (Garland is Chief Justice, technically Kavanaugh’s boss.) Kavanaugh was appointed by George W. Bush in 2006, after his hearing was delayed by Democrats for three years because they considered him unqualified and a partisan pick. In his 12 years on the bench, he has written more than 300 decisions.
3. He worked in the Bush White House
Kavanaugh served George W. Bush’s staff secretary — the mild-sounding job that is actually incredibly important. (It’s also the one Hope Hicks’s boyfriend Rob Porter was forced to leave after previous domestic abuse allegations surfaced against him.) The staff secretary keeps track of every piece of legislation the president has to sign, and so has his hands and eyes on all manner of highly privileged information. He was previously associate White House counsel under Bush.
4. Brett Kavanaugh was a lawyer during the 2000 Bush-Gore recount
He represented Bush.
5. He was on Kenneth Starr’s team investigating President Clinton
Dude got around. He was assigned to investigate Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster’s suicide and ultimately helped write the Starr Report.
6. As a judge, he criticized investigation of a sitting president
In a 2009 issue of the “Minnesota Law Review,” Kavanaugh wrote: “Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation — including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators — are time-consuming and distracting. Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the President’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President.”
7. Brett Kavanaugh made one ruling involving abortion
In the case of a 17-year-old immigrant who became pregnant and wanted to seek an abortion, Kavanaugh dissented from the majority and voted not to allow it. But he wasn’t as hard-line as another judge who also voted against it. He will be pressed to give his opinion on preserving Roe v. Wade during Senate confirmation hearings.
8. He clerked for the man he has been nominated to replace
Kavanaugh served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Today, Politico reported that Kennedy’s partiality to Kavanaugh helped convince Trump to make the pick.