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Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's nomination of U.S. Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has set off a contentious confirmation battle.

Be smart: Trump’s nod to Kavanaugh is not a surprise, given his conservative record and deep ties among Washington's Republican establishment. He was the frontrunner from the start, and a favorite of White House Counsel Don McGahn. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will certainly solidify the court's conservative majority.

His background: The 53-year-old is a federal appeals court judge from Bethesda, Maryland who graduated from Yale Law School in 1990, and has been working on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since then-President George W. Bush nominated him.

  • Before being appointed to the appellate court, he worked as a top White House lawyer for Bush, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in 1993, and was an attorney for the Office of the Solicitor General.
  • He also worked under Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as an associate counsel and penned much of Starr’s report in the 1990s, which included details of President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Kavanaugh had also led the Whitewater independent counsel inquiry into the death of a Clinton White House counsel, per the Baltimore Sun.

Critical decisions: In 2017, Kavanaugh dissented on a decision that allowed an immigrant teenager to get an abortion, and has rejected the idea that the Obama administration could compel employers, including those with religious beliefs, to provide contraception to employees.

Go deeper: Where Brett Kavanaugh sits in the ideological spectrum

Go deeper

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is backfilling lost corporate and personal donations with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate the Missouri lawmaker as he weighs re-election or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.