When President Donald Trump announced on July 9 the selection of his nominee for a vacancy on the Supreme Court, he chose a jurist who was on a list of eight constitutionalist judges that a Heritage Foundation scholar compiled more than two years earlier.
Trump tapped Judge Brett Kavanaugh—who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006—to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy announced his retirement at the end of the court’s 2017-2018 term in late June.
Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Kavanaugh’s confirmation begin Sept. 4.
In early March 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Heritage’s John Malcolm published a list of potential Supreme Court justices in a Daily Signal article, “The Next Supreme Court Justice.” The non-exclusive list contained eight names, including Kavanaugh’s.
After releasing an initial list of 11 names in May 2016, Trump later added to his list to include Kavanaugh. Trump gave credit to The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation for helping to inform his thinking in compiling his own list.
Malcolm joined Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James and Edwin Meese III, who served as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, at the White House’s July 9 event when Kavanaugh was announced as the nominee.
At the White House event, Trump thanked Meese for his service during remarks in which he called Kavanaugh an ideal candidate to fill Kennedy’s seat.
“Both Justice Kennedy and Justice Scalia were appointed by a president who understood that the best defense of our liberty—and a judicial branch immune from political prejudice—were judges that apply the Constitution as written. That president happened to be Ronald Reagan,” Trump said. “For this evening’s announcement, we are joined by Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, Edwin Meese. I speak for everyone: Thank you for everything you have done to protect our nation’s great legal heritage.”
Heritage had hosted Kavanaugh in October 2017 for the 10th annual Joseph Story Lecture, celebrating 19th-century Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and his dedication to constitutional principles. One of the nation’s earliest Supreme Court justices, Story was appointed by President James Madison and served for nearly 34 years, from 1811 to 1845.
“Remember that the structure of the Constitution—the separation of powers and federalism—are not mere matters of etiquette or architecture, but are essential to protecting individual liberty,” Kavanaugh said. “Structure protects liberty. And remember that courts have a critical role, when a party has standing, in enforcing those separation of powers and federalism limits.”
Kavanaugh’s credentials and judicial record reflect his commitment to upholding the Constitution, the paramount consideration with respect to all of the judges recommended by Heritage.
“We were pleased to recommend Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a distinguished jurist and dedicated public servant, as someone who would make an outstanding Supreme Court justice, and are thrilled that President Trump has now nominated him to the high court,” Malcolm said.
“Judge Kavanaugh has proven time and again that he is a fair and impartial judge who applies the law as written, without stretching the law to accommodate his own political and personal preferences,” Malcolm added. “We will do everything we can between now and his [Senate] confirmation hearing to inform the public about the qualifications of this outstanding nominee.”