(RNN) - President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be the next justice to join the Supreme Court of the United States.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a former clerk of the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy and has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for the last 10 years.
"Mr. President, I am grateful to you and I'm humbled by your confidence in me," Kavanaugh said Monday night. "Thirty years ago, President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the supreme court. The framers established that the constitution is designed to secure the blessings of liberty. Justice Kennedy devoted his career to securing liberty. I am deeply honored to be nominated to fill his seat on the Supreme Court."
A George W. Bush appointee to his current position, Kavanaugh had worked as counsel and staff secretary in the White House before his nomination.
A graduate of Yale and Yale Law, he also was a member of Kenneth Starr's independent counsel team that investigated President Bill Clinton. Democrats are expected to draw from the Starr report Kavanaugh helped write to criticize Trump - the report argued a president could be impeached for lying to staff or misleading the public.
Conservatives have taken issue with a potential Kavanaugh nomination, with some critics on the right citing his closeness to the Bush 43 administration while others believe he doesn't have a strong enough stance against abortion. Republican Sen. Rand Paul reportedly took issue with Kavanaugh's rulings on health care, which could be a concern due to Republicans' small margin for error in the Senate.
Kavanaugh now faces the confirmation process. Given the Republican's slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, the conservative seemingly already has the numbers to take Kennedy's seat.
"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 will keep an open mind in every case and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law," Kavanaugh said.
However, Democrats are expected to fight against the confirmation since Kennedy's departure serves as the loss of a deciding swing vote on many progressive issues.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to opposed Judge Kavanaugh's nomination with everything he has.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell threw his support behind Kavanaugh's nomination.
"I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and to the Senate's fair consideration of his nomination, beginning with the work of Chairman Grassley and the Judiciary Committee. This is an opportunity for Senators to put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command," McConnell said in a statement.
Kennedy announced his plans for retirement in June. That gave Trump his another chance to make a lasting impact on the Supreme Court and to give conservatives a 5-4 majority.
Trump said in the wake of Kennedy's retirement that he would not be asking potential justices about Roe v. Wade.
However, candidate Trump in 2016 called overturning the ruling that legalized abortion a "litmus test," stating that it will happen if he got to choose two or three new members of the court.
"My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent, must interpret the law, not make the law, must interpret statutes as written, and must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent," Kavanaugh said.