Trump nominates conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. President Donald Trump has introduced his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as "a judge's judge'' and cited his "proven commitment to equal justice under the law.'' Trump announced Kavanaugh as his pick Monday night on prime-time television.

The 53-year-old Kavanaugh is a longtime fixture of the Republican establishment. He has been a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington since 2006. He also was a key aide to Kenneth Starr during the investigation of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh also worked in the White House during George W. Bush's presidency.

Trump says Kavanaugh has "impeccable credentials and unsurpassed qualifications.''

Trump made the announcement in the East Room of the White House and rousing applause broke out as Kavanaugh entered with his wife and two daughters.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh said he is "humbled'' and "deeply honoured'' to have been selected by President Donald Trump for the Supreme Court.  Kavanaugh added that if he's confirmed, he "will keep an open mind in every case'' and "always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.''

However, Republicans face a serious challenge in getting Kavanaugh confirmed.

The party holds a mere 50-49 Senate majority, with the prolonged absence of the ailing Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain. The defection of one Republican would kill the nomination unless at least one Democrat votes yes.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky says he's keeping an "open mind'' on President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Conservative and libertarian-leaning activists have raised concerns about Kavanaugh, with some conservatives suggesting Paul said he might oppose a Kavanaugh nomination. Paul did not publicly say he would vote against him.  

Other Republican Senators thought to be "swing votes" on Kavanaugh's nomination include the pro-choice Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.