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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Justice Kennedy Retires, Supreme Court Open for Trump to Fill

Justice Kennedy retires, opening another Supreme Court vacancy for Trump to fill

Posted on June 27, 2018

Source: Personal Liberty

He is now retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Kennedy announced Wednesday that he is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court, giving Donald Trump another chance at appointing a conservative to the highest court in the land.

Kennedy informed the president of his decision in a letter, reports the Washington Post.

“My dear Mr. President,” Kennedy wrote. “For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honor to serve on this court. 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.”

Kennedy, 81, joined the court in 1988 after he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. reports: “Without him, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans. Trump’s nominee is likely to give the conservatives a solid majority and will face a Senate process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority, but Democrats can’t delay confirmation.”

According to the Los Angeles Times:

With five solid conservatives, the justices could repeal the right to abortion, expand protections for gun owners, narrow gay rights and strengthen the president’s power to arrest and deport immigrants who are here illegally.

Kennedy’s departure caps what was already one of the most difficult terms for liberals in recent memory, with defeats on issues such as public unions, Trump’s travel ban and voting rights. Unlike previous years, Kennedy rarely partnered this term with the more liberal justices to form a majority.

His decision to leave at such a sensitive time — almost guaranteeing that the court will now move to the right — will undoubtedly become a key part of his legacy. It could also put some of his own decisions at risk for overturning.

The Times notes there are several candidates on Trump’s radar to replace Kennedy. The leading candidates are Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, recently appointed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a staunch conservative and a former law clerk for Kennedy who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Another contender is Judge Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, who also sits on the D.C. Circuit bench and who was the runner-up last year for the opening that went to Neil M. Gorsuch.

The Times quotes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Wednesday that the Senate hoped to confirm Kennedy’s replacement by the fall. With midterm elections approaching, Republicans won’t want to delay in case they lose the Senate majority in November, which they currently control by only one seat.

The Daily Caller reminded readers that not everyone will miss Justice Kennedy: “The verbosity and drama which characterize his writing draws virulent critics, who say his rhetorical flourishes confuse important areas of law. The late Justice Antonin Scalia famously dragged Kennedy for descending into ‘the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie,’ in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Kennedy decision which legalized same-sex marriage.”

Leonard Leo, an outside advisor to the White House on judicial nominations told USA Today the next nominee will be in the Gorsuch mold. “I expect the nominee to be like Justice Gorsuch, to demonstrate excellence in every respect, and to earn widespread support from the American people, and bipartisan support for confirmation in the Senate,” Leo said.

Many of the Court’s recent decisions have been decided along ideological lines. The most recent ruling against unions collecting dues from non-members was split the court along ideological and partisan lines. The five justices who formed the majority were all Republican appointees. The four dissenters were appointed by Democratic presidents.

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