Kennedy retirement kicks speculation over Supreme Court replacement into high gear

Kennedy retirement kicks speculation over Supreme Court replacement into high gear

Calling Justice Kennedy a "great justice" who has displayed "tremendous vision and heart", Trump said a search for his successor will start "immediately".

The retirement will take effect at the end of July. His departure will nearly certainly lead to a dramatic, long-term shift on the nation's highest court, one that could have major implications on everything from abortion to voting rights.

It will give Donald Trump an opportunity to make the court more firmly conservative as he was the swing vote on many of its 5-4 decisions. "It's clearly precedent. I always look for judges who respect precedent".

He was often referred to as the "swing vote" between the four more liberal and four more reliably conservative justices now presiding over the court.

McConnell rationalized this decision by making the argument that it was somehow a tradition not to confirm a new Supreme Court justice in an election year. He was also the second-oldest behind Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85. Stephen Breyer, a liberal, is the next oldest at 79. This was before now-Justice Clarence Thomas was, in 1991, Borked.

"Earth-shaking & gut-wrenching", Sen.

Sen. Richard Blumnethal, D-Conn., on Twitter seemed to sum up those broader concerns. "Even though Justice Kennedy is Roman Catholic, and was appointed by Ronald Reagan, he has consistently sided with the liberals on abortion".

As a same-sex attracted man who also strives to live according to my Catholic faith, I stood in front of the Supreme Court yesterday and declared Kennedy's majority opinion in the Obergefell case was "flat out wrong".

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His belief that campaign finance regulation often violates free speech was exemplified in his authorship of the opinion in Citizens United, which has opened the door for an explosion of big money in elections.

What happens to the Supreme Court until there's a new justice? If Trump moves to make a nomination quickly, and Republicans maintain a united position, a new justice could easily be in place before October 1, when the court will resume hearing arguments.

Trump announced he would nominate a replacement from a standing list of 25 possibilities, presumably the list he published in November 2017.

The potential candidates on his list are largely white, male, conservative and relatively young. It's highly unlikely that Kennedy's successor will be in his tradition of a more moderate, center-right influence on the court's conservative wing.

When asked if he thinks its fair to bring up a Supreme Court nominee during an election year, after blocking President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016, McConnell told reporters: "There's no presidential election this year".

Says the Kentucky Republican, "It's imperative that the president's nominee be considered fairly and not subjected to personal attacks".

"Leader McConnell set that standard in 2016 when he denied Judge Garland a hearing for almost a year, and the Senate should follow the McConnell Standard".

The news sent shockwaves through Washington and the nation, especially among legal pundits and members of Congress who expressed their concerns about just how much of an impact Kennedy's departure may have on the Supreme Court and the rulings made for decades to come. "Nothing less than the fate of our health care system, reproductive rights for women and countless other protections for middle-class Americans are at stake".

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