Kirsters Baish| After 30 years of serving as Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy announced today that he will be retiring. This gives President Trump a chance to finagle the court to make it more conservative.
Kennedy (a conservative) is the second-oldest justice to serve on the court of nine members. He is currently 81 years old, but will turn 82 years old in July. Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by then-President Ronald Reagan.
Reuters reports,”He proved instrumental in advancing gay rights, buttressing abortion rights and erasing political spending limits. His retirement takes effect on July 31, the court said.”
“It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” Kennedy explained in a written statement.
The court-issued statement explained that the Supreme Court Justice was hoping to retire in order “to spend more time with his family.”
“He is a man that I’ve known for a long time and a man that I’ve respected for a long time. He’s been a great justice of the Supreme Court. He’s a man … who has displayed tremendous vision, and tremendous heart, and he will be missed,” President Trump explained to reporters inside the White House Oval Office.
President Trump explained that he will be starting to look for a new Supreme Court Justice immediately. He is choosing from a list of 25 eligible candidates.
Kennedy is a traditional conservative who sometimes joined the liberal justices on key rulings, earning a reputation as the court’s “swing” vote who heartened conservatives and liberals alike, depending on the issue.
His retirement was disclosed on the final day of the court’s current term, which began in October.
Kennedy on Tuesday joined the court’s four other conservatives in giving Trump a huge legal victory by upholding the Republican president’s travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries. On Wednesday, he joined his fellow conservative justices in a 5-4 ruling that dealt a major setback to organized labor by shutting off a key union revenue source.
So far, President Trump has made changes to the Supreme Court by reviving its previous 5-4 conservative majority by appointing Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Finding a replacement for Kennedy won’t change the balance of the court when it comes to political party lines, however the move will mean that Chief Justice John Roberts would be the last word. It also means that President Trump may choose a candidate who leans more toward the conservative ideology than Kennedy did. Keep in mind that Kennedy sometimes did side with liberal causes.
Fox News reports:
A Supreme Court vacancy will likely become a key issue in a midterm congressional election year, when control of the Senate is at stake.
That body will consider Trump’s latest high court nominee, requiring only a simple majority for confirmation. GOP leaders changed the rules when Gorsuch was being considered, to get rid of the 60-vote procedural filibuster threshold.
But Democrats are expected to try and transform the court opening into a broader political referendum on Trump’s leadership, and the future of social issues like immigration, gun rights and race.
With Kennedy gone, the Supreme Court will be divided amongst four Democrat-appointed liberal justices and four Republican-appointed conservative justices. You can bet that President Trump is going to use this second Senate pick very wisely.