President Trump nominated appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Monday night to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, ending a days-long guessing game that began the moment Kennedy announced his retirement and setting the stage for a grueling confirmation fight. The president praised what he called Kavanaugh's "impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law." Trump said,
"There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving."
Leonard Leo, an adviser to the president for judicial nominations, joined Fox News Radio's Guy Benson and Marie Harf to discuss why President Trump chose Kavanaugh.
His thoughts on Kavanaugh: This president is probably the most engaged and intense and transparent on Supreme Court selection than I've ever seen in my professional life, and there's no question in my mind that he has been extraordinarily thorough and he's made an absolutely extraordinary pick. You know, this is something he cared about deeply because he ran on it during the presidential election and this propelled him to victory. So, he took this very very seriously, and Brett Kavanaugh is exactly what the president wanted. He's one of the most distinguished jurors in the country. (1:13)
On the importance of D.C. Circuit court which Kavanaugh sits: Well, for the legal nerds the D.C. Circuit is called the second most powerful court in the country and that's because being in D.C. it has jurisdiction over some of the really important cases involving things like separation of powers and federalism and executive power and how far the administrative state can go in regulating people's lives. And of course D.C. itself has a rather crazy jurisdiction so at times you get things like the D.C. gun ban. So, there's a lot of really important cases that come through there and that gives a lot of judges on that court a lot of experience. (3:05)
On Judge Kavanaugh's thoughts on women's health issues: Judge Kavanaugh like Justice Elena Kagan and Judge Ruth Ginsburg is not going to answer specific questions about where he stands on those issues It's important to remember when we talk about Roe v. Wade and abortion that this has been a boogie man or scare tactic going all the way back to Sandra O'Conner's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1981. Everybody thought that she was going to overturn Roe v. Wade and everybody thought that Anthony Kennedy was going to overturn Roe v. Wade. (5:22)
On if President Trump is looking for someone to overturn Roe v. Wade: First of all remember, a lot of presidents run on these promises on both sides, but when you really get down to it you have to look at the process they put in place when they are president. And I can't speak to what he's said on the campaign trail, but I can tell you this is a process where the president doesn't get into it. We've never talked about it. (6:55)
On Capitol Hill side of this: First, every president thinks about what the confirmation process is going to look like when they nominate someone. So, absolutely you're going to think about the Senators who are going to be most interested and concerned about a nominee. So that happens all the time and certainly this president was getting commentary from people about that and occasionally asking questions about it. (8:58)
On timeline of confirmation: It's going to be a smaller document dump than people think and a relatively easy one I think to get through. (10:50)
On if this is a victory lap for the Federalist Society: Well, it's far from over. We don't have a judiciary that is fully in accord with the idea of interpreting the text as its written and applying the original meaning. We're certainly much further along than we used to be. (12:54)