President Donald Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee Monday evening.
Kavanaugh, 53, would replace former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy who announced his retirement June 27. Trump had a shortlist of 25 potential nominees including Thomas Hardiman, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vet him and the vote will go to the Senate.
This is President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee; he appointed Neil Gorsuch last year following former justice Antonin Scalia’s death. Gorsuch was sworn in last year and weighed in on landmark decisions about public unions and religious liberty for businesses. Gorsuch sided with the conservative majority vote in both cases.
Kennedy, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, served on the Supreme Court for 30 years and was seen as a swing vote in several major cases. He voted to uphold abortion rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S.
Kavanaugh graduated from Yale University and attended high school at the Georgetown Preparatory School. He was previously a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and served on the George W. Bush administration as Associate Counsel, Senior Associate Counsel and assistant to President and Staff secretary.
Amanda Bryan, a political science professor at Loyola who has published research about the judicial system and Supreme Court, said she was surprised Kavanaugh was chosen among Trump’s other considerations including Barrett and Hardiman. Hardiman is a judge in the 3rd Circuit, and Barrett is in the 7th Circuit — which includes Chicago.
Bryan said she thought it would be unlikely that Roe v. Wade would be overturned if Kavanaugh is confirmed.
“Roe v. Wade is not only a very old precedent in the history of modern social justice but it’s also a precedent that has been reaffirmed and reaffirmed and reaffirmed even within the conservative court that we’ve had for decades,” she said. “The court just doesn’t really have the stomach to overturn a precedent that is that well established.”
However, Bryan said having a more conservative Supreme Court could lead decisions that make abortions less accessible.
Some Loyola students, including Students for Reproductive Justice member Lauren Morrissey, said they’re concerned about Kavanaugh because his confirmation could cause a conservative shift in the Supreme court. This could lead the court to overturn previous rulings on cases about LGBTQ and reproductive rights.
Morrissey, a political science and religious studies double major, said she’s worried about Kavanaugh because of what she sees as a history of ruling against reproductive rights.
Morrissey, 20, cited two cases of particular concern: a 2017 case in which Kavanaugh argued an undocumented teen shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion while in federal custody, and a 2015 case in which he argued religious organizations shouldn’t have to cover contraception in employee health insurance.
Morrissey said she hopes Trump’s announcement will encourage others to speak out against Kavanaugh.
“There are a lot of challenges going up to the courts as far as reproductive rights … but I think it’s more of a call to action for those in the pro-choice movement to call their senators, call their representatives to see what we can do to block this confirmation,” Morrissey said.
Rising senior exercise physiology major and College Republicans member Shawn McDaniel said he preferred Barrett over Kavanaugh, but is okay with Trump’s choice. McDaniel said he liked Barrett for her judicial philosophy.
McDaniel, 31, said he doesn’t see an issue with having a more conservative Supreme Court.
“The difference between the left and the right is the right sees the court as a check against the president and a check against Congress and a means to uphold and defend the Constitution as it’s written,” he said. “I don’t necessarily see a conservative majority as a bad thing because they’re going to defend the rights that are on the books.”
Kavanaugh will need 51 votes from the Senate to be confirmed. Hearings have not been scheduled at the time of publication.
Loyola College Democrats and the White House did not respond to The Phoenix’s request for comment.