Evangelicals have welcomed President Trump's pick to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy at the US Supreme Court. Kennedy announced he would be retiring next year, creating a flurry of speculation about who Trump would choose in his place.
Brett Kavanaugh, a District of Columbia appeals court judge, is seen as a safe pair of conservative hands. Based on his previous comments and rulings he is thought to be opposed to abortion, though it is not clear that he would to seek to repeal Roe vs Wade, which enshrines the right to abortion in federal law. However, he is in favour of the second amendment (the right to bear arms) and has ruled against Obama-era environmental regulations.
He has also argued that presidents should be shielded from lawsuits and criminal investigations while in office, which may have predisposed Trump in his favour. The US president's campaign is being investigated for ties it may have had with Russia.
Kavanaugh faces a difficult confirmation process in which he will be supported by evangelical leaders. A letter on the website of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission praised his suitability for the role and said: 'With Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump has an opportunity to shape the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation or more. As evangelical leaders, we support President Trump's nominee and will pray and work for a quick confirmation process.'
It has been signed by 40 evangelical leaders including the ERLC's Russell Moore, Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & Spurgeon College, DA Carson, president of The Gospel Coalition and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Moore said: 'Judge Kavanaugh is a tremendous choice for justice of the Supreme Court. He is a brilliant judge with a career of intellectually robust conservatism that recognizes the value of judicial restraint and faithfulness to the Constitution. I fully support President Trump's choice to replace Justice Kennedy.
'I am confident Judge Kavanaugh will be a strong defender of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, especially our First Freedom of religious liberty.
'I pray that Judge Kavanaugh will serve for decades to come with a firm and unwavering commitment to our Constitution's principles. I join with Baptists and other evangelicals in calling upon the Senate to confirm Judge Kavanaugh without delay.'
Kavanaugh must be confirmed in his role by 51 Senators and President Trump is likely to need the support of Democrats to see the nomination through.
If he is confirmed, the make-up of the Supreme Court is tilted decisively to the right.