WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says he will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, upholding his pledge to turn the nation's highest court in a more conservative direction for decades to come.
Trump in a televised announcement on July 9 said he had chosen the 53-year-old Kavanaugh to replace long-time Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who is retiring.
"There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," Trump said.
Kavanaugh has served since 2006 on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, having been appointed by then-President George W. Bush.
Supreme Court justices are nominated for lifetime appointments. With his age, Kavanaugh -- if confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate -- could serve for decades and help determine the course of U.S. society long after Trump's departure from the White House.
Kavanaugh would be expected to cast crucial votes on issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control, the death penalty, and voting rights, and could be involved in matters arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
Kavanaugh would be the ninth member of the Supreme Court, which currently has a 5-4 conservative majority.
However, Kennedy at times sided with liberals -- something experts say Kavanaugh is less likely to do.
Trump last year appointed Neil Gorsuch, also a conservative, to the court.
Two of the current liberal justices are in their 80s, and it is possible they could leave the court in upcoming years, allowing Trump to make further appointments.
Kavanaugh's nomination will set up a possible heated process in the Senate, although Republicans hold a 51-49 majority.
However, Senator John McCain is battling cancer at home in Arizona, meaning Republicans may be able to control only 50 votes. If no Democrats support the nomination, the Republicans could not afford any defections.