Donald Trump has chosen federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the US Supreme Court.
The 53-year-old has been put forward to replace long-serving conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June at the age of 81.
The president said Judge Kavanaugh was known for having a “proven commitment to equal justice under the law” and that “he’s considered a judge’s judge, a true thought leader among his peers”.
Judge Kavanaugh, who is married with two daughters, served as a senior White House official under the George W Bush presidency before he was nominated to the appeals court in 2003.
However, it took three years before the US Senate voted to confirm him for that role.
He also worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated former president Bill Clinton.
But in 2009 he was reported as saying that presidents should be free from civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office.
Judge Kavanaugh now faces what could be a difficult fight for confirmation by the Senate, where Republicans hold only a slim majority.
Speaking after his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh said: “If confirmed I will keep an open mind in every case and will always strive to preserve the constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
If he gets the green light, he is expected to be a reliable conservative voice who could weaken abortion rights, bolster support for capital punishment and curtail the power of regulatory agencies.
The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said he would fight the nomination “with everything I have”.
A confirmation for Judge Kavanaugh would mean “women’s reproductive rights would be in the hands of five men on the Supreme Court”, he added.