Persistent rumors that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire
The Supreme Court announced on Friday that Monday, June 26, would be the last day in the court's term. Several important decisions may be handed down, including a decision on President Trump's travel ban.
But along with speculation about which decisions will be published, there are persistent rumors - fed by people close to Justice Anthony Kennedy - that he will retire at the end of this term. Appointed by President Reagan in 1987, Kennedy is 80 years old and is said to be seriously considering stepping down.
Kennedy has played an important role as the court’s swing vote on many important rulings. His departure would allow conservatives to wrest near total control of the bench for the foreseeable future.
The justice has sided with his liberal colleagues on gay rights and abortion rights, as well as some cases involving race, the death penalty and the rights of people detained without charges at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. He has written all the court's major gay-rights decisions, including the 2015 ruling that declared same-sex marriage is a constitutional right nationwide
Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so.
Kennedy and his clerks were gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.
"Soon we'll know if rumors of Kennedy's retirement are accurate," one former Kennedy clerk, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, said on Twitter Friday.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters in April, "I would expect a resignation this summer."
Kennedy's departure would allow Trump to fill a second Supreme Court vacancy in just a short period of time.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, joined the court in April, overriding efforts by the Democratic minority to block the nomination.
The battle over the Gorsuch nomination will seem like child's play if the president gets the opportunity to name another justice. Gorsuch replaced strong conservative Justice Scalia, so the fundamental liberal-conservative make up of the court was unaffected.
But replacing Kennedy means replacing a reliable liberal vote on several issues. You can bet that the left will not go down without a horrendous fight if, as expected, President Trump nominates another conservative.
Expect anything in the confirmation fight, including outright, bald faced lies about the nominee's personal life and record. The left has already seen their allies in the press publish monumental lies about the president. What do you think they're going to do when a nominee that will give conservatives control of the court for the foreseeable future is offered up for confirmation. The fight will make the Robert Bork smears look like a picnic.
But Democrats are not likely to succeed given their long odds of taking the Senate in 2018 and the GOP's willingness to use the nuclear option to get a nominee confirmed. As long as President Trump nominates a thoughtful, sound conservative, there shouldn't be any problem keeping all 52 Republican Senators on board to vote for confirmation.