In a day filled with suspense, intrigue, and sharp debate over the direction of the judiciary, the nation's most unconventional president showed a decidedly conventional approach to the Supreme Court. To some extent, that's by design.
Trump has treated that list as a playbook ever since.
"He had one thing after another thing after another thing, add more question marks about what does Putin have on Donald Trump?".
The Washington Post: Conservatives Are Finally Getting The Supreme Court They Dreamed Of - "While President Trump plays the appointment of a Supreme Court justice like a reality show, promoting the dramatic reveal of the nominee's name in tonight's prime-time special, it nearly doesn't matter which of the contenders is chosen".
Whatis a little surprising, however, is that Trump chose a candidate who identifies strongly with the establishment Trump campaigned against two years ago.
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Then the full D.C. Circuit stepped in and overturned the three-judge panel, ruling that illegal immigrants had a right to abortion and deciding the Trump administration's efforts to delay in order to find a sponsor were trampling on that right.
Kavanaugh served as a senior White House official under Republican former President George W. Bush before Bush picked nominated him to the appeals court in 2003. Last year, he was runner-up to Gorsuch. His track record in decisions and dissents makes it clear that Kavanaugh is unlikely to become another David Souter, a particular bete noire among conservatives who still smolder over Souter's development into a liberal voice on the Supreme Court.
"Not only did Mr. Kavanaugh say that a president should not be subpoenaed, he said a president shouldn't be investigated", Schumer said. GOP leaders, with a slim majority in the Senate, are anxious to have Kavanaugh in place for the start of the court's session in October - and before the November congressional elections.
Thanks to Sen. Doug Jones' (D-AL) upset victory over Republican Roy Moore in December's special election in Alabama, the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate is even narrower now-51 to 49-than it was when Gorsuch was confirmed in 2017, when it was 52 to 48. He was confirmed to the position in 2006.
But of course neither the liberals most panicked by Kennedy's retirement nor the conservatives who voted for Trump nearly exclusively because of judicial nominations are focused on the general drift of the court; they're focused on those hot-button cases where Kennedy advanced the causes of social liberalism, and on abortion above all.
Still, on balance, Kavanaugh carried the least amount of risk and perhaps the broadest benefit. What happens next is a no-holds-barred fight for public opinion and Senate votes, which history suggests the president is heavily favored to win. Otherwise, the absence of a one-party numerical super-advantage necessitated a familiar plan for navigating Supreme Court confirmation proceedings: in need of bipartisan support, nominees would appear as moderate as possible.