WASHINGTON – During a made-for-prime-time event Monday night, President Donald Trump introduced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"What matters is not a judge's political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require," Trump said in his announcement live from the East Room of the White House. "I am pleased to say that I have found, without a doubt, such a person."
Handpicked from a group of 25 candidates, Kavanaugh became a crucial appointment that could tilt the high court for decades.
"My judicial philosophy is straightforward," said Kavanaugh. "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law."
Demonstrators gathered outside the high court expressed their disappointment with the president's pick– and they aren't the only ones.
"The AFA, the American Family Association – they are further on the right if you will. Remember, this is an evangelical conservative organization; they are calling on their supporters to oppose Brett Kavanaugh, and that's a big deal," said CBN News' Chief Political Correspondent David Brody.
"Judge Kavanaugh's reasoning on religious liberty, Obamacare, and issues concerning life have proven to be of major concern," said AFA President Tim Wildmon.
Specifically, the AFA cites Kavanaugh's judicial opinion regarding the 2014 case involving the Christian group, Priests for Life, who argued that Obamacare's contraception mandate would violate the very reason for its existence.
"Although Judge Kavanaugh decided correctly in court case Priests for Life v. US Dep't of Health & Human Services, he wrote a moderate opinion disagreeing with the Priests on a foundational constitutional religious liberty principle," the AFA wrote in a statement on its website.
"Judge Kavanaugh unnecessarily conceded in his opinion that the government has a compelling interest to force religious organizations to provide contraceptives and abortifacients for employees. Kavanaugh's concession created a dangerous precedent," the group warned.
However, on Tuesday, the group posted the following statement on their website:
"AFA has opposed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S Supreme Court for some very valid reasons. We are deeply concerned about how he might ultimately rule on issues related to abortion and religious liberty. For these reasons, we consider this nomination to represent a four-star appointment when it could have been five-star," the statement read.
"However, after hearing the concerns of some of our supporters, and after hearing the passionate defense of Judge Kavanaugh by many we consider to be friends in the pro-life movement, we are willing to let this process play out. We eagerly await the confirmation hearings when we hope to get clarification from Judge Kavanaugh on aspects related to our concerns."
"At this time, we have no plans to fight President Trump on this nomination. He has appointed a lot of good federal judges already and we look forward to many more. We hope that our concerns prove to be unfounded," the statement concluded.
However, other evangelical groups are thrilled with Trump's pick.
"Judge Brett Kavanaugh is abundantly qualified to sit on the bench of the United States Supreme Court," Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement. "He is among the best and brightest jurists on the appellate courts with a reputation of being fair and impartial in his decisions. Judge Kavanaugh is known as a judge who respects the Constitution as written, refusing to legislate from the bench."
"Evangelicals are ecstatic because in less than two years President Trump has filled a second Supreme Court vacancy with a second conservative — just as he promised. The fact that the president chose another conservative justice is more important than the name of that justice. This is a huge win for President Trump," Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said in a statement.
Kavanaugh has served on the DC Court of Appeals since 2006.
He earned a law degree from Yale, clerked for Justice Kennedy and has a vast judicial record with more than 300 opinions.
"Tomorrow I begin meeting with members of the Senate, which plays an essential role in this process," Kavanaugh said.
President Trump predicts a vicious confirmation battle.
The lines are already drawn with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote for fall, while Democrats want to wait until after the midterms.
With a razor-thin majority and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) home battling brain cancer, Republicans need total unity to push this nominee through.