MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has strong ties to South Florida during some big moments.
In 2000, he represented the Miami relatives of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. The family fought, and ultimately lost, to keep the Gonzalez here instead of having him returned to his father in Cuba.
The same year, Kavanaugh represented then-Governor Jeb Bush in his controversial quest to set up a school voucher program that would divert public money to private religious schools.
Kavanaugh also served on former President George W. Bush’s legal team in 2000 during the push to stop the presidential election ballot recount.
Both of Florida’s senators have weighed in on the nomination.
“Brett Kavanaugh is a qualified, mainstream jurist who possesses the right temperament and experience for the position,” wrote Sen. Marco Rubio in a statement.
Rubio added that his decision on whether to support Kavanaugh’s nomination will be based on whether Kavanaugh will interpret and defend the Constitution as written.
Sen. Bill Nelson wrote that he is “forward to meeting with the President’s nominee in the coming weeks to discuss his views on several important issues such as protecting women’s rights, guaranteeing access to health care for those with pre-existing conditions and protecting the right to vote, just to name a few. I will make my decision after that.”
Kavanaugh now faces a bitterly divided Senate as the confirmation process begins.
“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,” he said after Trump announced his nomination.
With his wife and two daughters by his side, the 53-year-old said he was deeply honored to have been selected by President Trump.
“My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” he said.
Kavanaugh has written roughly 300 opinions as a judge on the Washington D.C. circuit. He has supported conservative issues ranging from gun rights to anti-abortion cases. He also sided against net neutrality and many Obama-era EPA regulations.
Kavanaugh worked as an assistant to independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the President Bill Clinton impeachment probe. In 2009 he wrote a law review article saying presidents should be free from facing “criminal prosecutions,” adding an “indictment and trial would cripple the federal government.”
At a rally outside the supreme court, Democrats slammed the President’s choice.
“I can tell you this is the most political of possible appointments. This is a nominee who wants to pave the path to tyranny,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR.
Kavanaugh will begin meeting with senators on Wednesday.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell called Kavanaugh “a superb choice.” The Senate is expected to vote on his nomination in the fall.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.