Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court over the weekend is a double win for the Trump administration, not only securing a conservative majority on the high court, but also opening up a new seat for President Donald Trump to fill on an influential federal appeals court.
Kavanaugh’s now-former court, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, is often referred to as the second-most powerful court in the country. It’s the primary venue for fights over executive power, federal regulations, and political controversies — last month, the court heard arguments about the Trump administration’s authority to stop pregnant undocumented teens from getting abortions, and next month will take up a challenge to special counsel Robert Mueller’s authority.
It’s also long been a springboard to the Supreme Court. DC Circuit alumni include Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas, and the late justice Antonin Scalia. Whoever Trump nominates will be seen as a potential future Supreme Court pick. When Kavanaugh joined the DC Circuit in 2006, his position on that court, combined with his conservative bona fides — he worked for independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton administration and served under former president George W. Bush — quickly put him on Supreme Court watch-lists.