SPECIAL REPORT: Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

The president revealed his choice in a prime-time announcement.
20:31 | 07/10/18

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Transcript for SPECIAL REPORT: Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court
This is an ABC news special were. Presidents from Supreme Court nominee. Now reporting. George Stephanopoulos. Good evening we are coming on the air right now because president trump is about to announce one of the most consequential moves a president can make. His next choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court the seat held by retiring justice Anthony Kennedy for more than thirty years. Kennedy a conservative appointed by Ronald Reagan. But so often the key swing vote on the court siding with liberals on social issues like gay marriage abortion and affirmative action. President Trump's choice almost certain to be a more consistent conservative. Locking in a five vote majority if confirmed by the senate. Our chief White House correspondent Jon Karl's in the east room of the white as in John locking in that conservative majority a core promise trump hammered home during the campaign. It sure was George this is president trumps chance to tipped the balance of power on the supreme court for years maybe even decades to come. He promised to put solid conservatives on the court. Even in the campaign he put out a list of them it was a promise he never wavered on and George many Republicans believe that is in large part. Why he is now president today. And may have been pleased with his first choice justice and of course are telling the court against citing consistent with conservatives on the court. We're about to present trump come in and I think he likes keeping surprises. He kept this one to leave until it be entering the east room. Of the White House in just a moment to NASA's second choice ladies and gentlemen the ink well president of the United States. My fellow Americans. Tonight I speak to you from the east room of the White House regarding one of the most profound responsibility. Of the president. Of the United States and that is the selection. Of any Supreme Court justice. I've often heard that other than matters of war and peace this is the most important decision. A president. Will make the Supreme Court. Is entrusted. With the safeguard. The crown jewels of our republic. The constitution. Of the United States. Twelve days ago justice Anthony Kennedy. Informed of any of his decision. To take senior status on the Supreme Court. Opening a new vacancy. For more than four decades Justice Kennedy served our nation. With incredible. Passion and devotion. I'd like to thank Justice Kennedy for a lifetime. Of distinguished. Service. In a few moments I will announce my selection. For justice Kennedy's request. This is the second time I've been faced with this task. Last year I nominated. Judge Neal Gore's speech. To replace the late great justice Antonin Scalia. I terrorists just as Gore's speech because I knew that he just like Justice Scalia. Would be a faithful servant. Have our constitution. We are honored to be joined tonight by justice Scully is beloved wife Maureen. Both Justice Kennedy and Justice Scalia were appointed by a president who understood that the best defense and Lara liberty and a judicial branch. Immune from political prejudice. We're judges. Can apply. The constitution. As written. That president. Happen to be Ronald Reagan. For this evening's announcement we are joined by Ronald Reagan's attorney general Edwin Meese. And then I speak for everyone thank you for everything you've done to protect our nation's. Great legal heritage. In keeping with president Reagan's legacy. I do not ask about a nominee's personal opinions. What matters is not a judge's political views but whether they can say this side. Those views to do what the laws and the constitution. Require. I am pleased to see day that I have found without doubt. Such a Paris. Tonight. It is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate judge Brett Cavanaugh. To the United States. I know the people in this room very well they do not stand and give applause like that are so they have some respect and rents wife Ashley and their two daughters Margaret and lies that have joined us on the podium and thank you and congratulations. To you as a family could. Judge cap on our hands impeccable credentials unsurpassed qualifications. And a proven commitment to equal justice under the law. A graduate of Yale college and Yale Law School judge Kavanagh currently teaches at Harvard Yale and George to. Throughout legal circles he is considered a judge's judge. A true thought leader among his peers. He's a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds. Of our time. And just like justice courses which he excelled as a clerk for Justice Kennedy. And judge Kavanagh has devoted his life to public service. For the last twelve years he has served as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals with great distinction. Authoring over 300 opinions which have been widely admired for their skill inside. And rigorous adherence. To the law. Among those opinions are more than a dozen that the Supreme Court has adopted as the law of the land. Beyond his great renown as a judge he is active in his community. He coaches CYO basketball. Serves meals to needy families. Haven't having learned from his mom who was a school teacher in DC. Tutors children at local elementary schools. There is no one in America more qualified. For this position. And no one more deserving. I want to thank. The senators. On both sides of the aisle. Republican and Democrat for their consultation and advice during the selection. Process. This incredibly qualified nominee deserves a swift confirmation and robust. Bipartisan support. The rule of law is our nations proud heritage and it is the cornerstone of our freedom. It is what guarantees equal justice. And the senate now has the chance to protect. This glorious heritage. By sending George Brett cap ago. To the United States Supreme Court and now judge. The podium is yours. Mr. President. Thank you. Throughout this process. I've witnessed first hand. Your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. No president. Has ever consulted more widely. For talked with more people for more backgrounds. To seeking input about a Supreme Court nomination. Mr. President I am grateful to you. And I'm humbled by your confidence in me and thirty years ago. President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy the Supreme Court. The framers established. That the constitution. There's designed to secure the blessings of liberty. Justice Kennedy devoted his career. To securing liberty. I am deeply honored so. To be nominated. To fill his seat on the Supreme Court. My mom and dad are here. I am their only child's. When people ask what it's like to be an only child's. I say. It depends on who your parent Sar. I was lucky. My mom was a teacher. In the 1960s. And seventies she taught history at two largely African American public high schools in Washington DC. We can we checked in HD Woodson. Her example. Told me the importance of equality for all Americans. My mom was a TrailBlazer. When I was ten she went to wall scored became a prosecutor. Why entered auction the wall came and our dinner table. Which he practiced her closing arguments. Her trademark line was. Use your common sense. What rings true. What rings false. That's good advice for juror. In for asylum. One of the few women prosecutors of that time she overcame barriers and became a trial judge. The president introduced me tonight as judge capital. But to me that tied always longed tomorrow mob. My dad went to wall scored night while working full time. He has an unparalleled work ethic. And is passed down to meet his passion for playing. And watching sports. I love him dearly. The motto of my jesuit high school. Was meant for others. I've tried to live that creed. I've spent my career in public service from the executive branch of the White House. To the US court of appeals for the DC circuit. I've served with seventeen other judges. Each of them a Carly. And a friend. My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent. And must interpret the law will not make the wall. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the constitution as written. Informed by history. And tradition. And precedent. For the past eleven years up taught hundreds of students. Primarily at Harvard Law School. I teach that the constitution's. Separation of powers protects individual liberty. And our main grateful to the dean who hired me justice Elena Kagan. As a judge I hire four law clerks each year. I look for the best. My wall clerks come from diverse backgrounds and points of yield. I am proud. That a majority of my law clerks have been women. I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the DC area. The members of that community. Disagree about many things. Well we are united by commitment to serve. Father John Chancellor is here. Forty years because an altar boy for father John. These days I help him serve meals to the homeless at Catholic Charities. I have two spirited daughters. Margaret and Liza. Margaret loved sports. And she loves to re. Why is a love sports. And she loves to talk. I've tried to create bonds was my daughters like my dad created with me. For the past seven years I've coached my daughter's basketball teams. The girls on the team call me coach K. I am proud of our blessed sacrament team that just won the city championship. My daughters and I also go to lots of games. Our favorite memory was going to thus distort Notre Dame UConn women's basketball game at this year's final four. Unforgettable. My wife Ashley is a west Texan. A graduate of Abilene Cooper public high school and the University of Texas. She's now the town manager of our community. We met in 2001 we both worked in the White House. Our first date was on September 10 2001. The next morning I was a few steps behind her. As the Secret Service shouted all of us just for now the front gates of the White House. Because there was and in bound plane. In the differ call weeks that followed. Actually was a source of strength. For President Bush. And for everyone in this building. Through bad days and so many better days since then she's been a great wife and inspiring Maung. I thank god every day from my fair way. Tomorrow I begin meeting with members of the senate that which plays an essential role in this process. I will tell each senator. That I Revere the constitution. I believe that an independent judiciary. Is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic. If confirmed by the senate. I don't keep an open minds in every case. And I wall always strive to preserve the constitution of the United States. And the American rule wall. Thank you Mr. President. CN. So we'll lose life story. There the president looks. Federal Court of Appeals as well food in the bush White House as you heard also serve. But independent counsel Ken Starr investigated President Clinton of course moving the Supreme Court correspondent. Cameron in Terry. That pedigree may Kavanagh favour of the president's top advisors including his White House counsel Don again but this is not a slam dunk for confirmation. It's not George from a rowdy Supreme Court a sign of the stakes the people's sense in this moment red Kevin hunt you say is they. Classic Washington establishment. Candidate he went to the same prep school that failed courses Yale College Yale Law School all those post. In the government but who fought in the trenches with conservatives against Clinton on the Florida recount. For the bush White House and staffing the court they loved him nevertheless the battle lines are drawn and his opinions in particular. Perhaps on a debt collection. Surveillance information on US citizens and others could lose of Republican voted to which he can't afford in general though this is seen as the Smart play. By president trump. Despite the fact that there's going to be a battle Royale and. So I'm both sides that evoke the spirit camera thanks very much can turn out over their programs or something new that's world news tonight. If she is live coverage continues right now online of course more later on Nightline. I'll see tomorrow again have a good night. To preserve the constitutes has been a special.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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