Anthony Kennedy, a Justice of the United States Supreme Court, announced his retirement today. His retirement is set for 31 July.
This means President Donald Trump now gets to nominate his second Justice to the Supreme Court, following Neil Gorsuch.
President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy in 1987 and Senate confirmed him in 1988. Kennedy served 30 years on the bench and was a key swing vote in numerous cases, especially as a moderate Republican.
Kennedy authored the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states and celebrating its third anniversary this week.
He also wrote the narrow ruling of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
‘The greatest honor and privilege’
Kennedy penned a letter to Donald Trump announcing his retirement.
Letter from Justice Kennedy announcing the news: pic.twitter.com/3JzlqI8amZ
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 27, 2018
‘For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court,’ he wrote. ‘Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.’
The Supreme Court also released a press release, in which Kennedy addressed his colleagues and reasons for leaving.
— Kimberly Robinson (@KimberlyRobinsn) June 27, 2018
In the release, it states Kennedy’s family urged him to stay on, but his decision to step down was ‘based on his deep desire to spend more time with them’.
What happens now?
Trump now gets to nominate his second Justice to the Supreme Court, following conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch. Supreme Court Justices are lifelong appointments, typically lasting for decades.
This gives the Supreme Court a clearer conservative majority and puts many past cases at risk. Actists and liberals are especially worried about anti-discrimination laws and religious freedom, as well as Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.
One of Trump’s possible choices is William Pryor. He once called Roe v. Wade ‘the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history’.
Trump now has to nominate someone and the Senate must then confirm them.
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell said that will happen ‘this fall’.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role … to fill this vacancy. We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall." pic.twitter.com/Cg8b7qzuKm
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) June 27, 2018
Many liberals hope that won’t be until after the midterm elections in November, when Democrats are primed to pick up more Congressional seats.
Gorsuch became a Supreme Court Justice after McConnell refused to vote on President Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland. He reasoned it was because it was a presidential election year. He held the vote until Trump was inaugurated and then got to nominate his own pick.
Here is Trump’s short-list.