Supreme Court Justice Kennedy's retirement promises huge battle for greens, others

Clay Curtis
June 30, 2018

President Donald Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One he plans to announce his choice to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9.

Speaking to reporters on the plane from Washington DC, Trump said he may interview two contenders for the nomination this weekend in New Jersey.

The president said he would not ask potential nominees about their position on Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that gave women the right to an abortion.

In announcing Kennedy's retirement this week, Trump said he would start the effort to replace him "immediately" and would pick from a list of 25 names that he updated previous year. Kennedy has seemed to relish his frequent role as the decisive fifth vote in numerous important decisions, particularly two, one preserving Roe v. Wade and access to abortion as a fundamental constitutional right, the other establishing same-sex marriage as such a right.

That said, Republicans now hold 51 seats, so they can't afford to lose many from their own conference, either.

"Throughout his almost 30 years on the Supreme Court", Mr. Trump said, "Justice Kennedy has been praised by all for his dedicated and dignified service".

"Mike Lee, he's an outstanding talent", Trump said.

The Times article describes an unusually close relationship between Justice Kennedy and Trump and a "quiet campaign" from the White House to encourage Kennedy to retire.

The Supreme Court nomination will set up another U.S. Senate confirmation showdown in an election year, with all seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate up for grabs.

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The Center for Reproductive Rights says that, if Roe were overturned, abortions could be banned in as many as 24 states.

At the behest of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Democrats in 2013 invoked the nuclear option - voting along party lines to end the filibuster for executive and judicial nominees below the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kennedy had been the swing vote on the deeply divided court.

During his campaign, Mr Trump promised to deliver "pro-life" judges to the Supreme Court - a prospect that has alarmed women's rights groups. "We'll have the same President", so the comparison to the transition from Obama to Trump doesn't work, he added.

"We'd be very happy if he'd pick any name on that list", said Severino. Nearly three-in-10 people polled said they will vote for a candidate who wants to restrict access to abortion service, and a quarter said it doesn't make a difference.

Democrats had focused on Flake as their best hope to stall Trump's Supreme Court pick.

He met Thursday with key Republican and Democratic senators at the White House in the evening to discuss the vacancy.

"For more than three decades, Justice Kennedy served with great distinction on the Supreme Court of the United States", he said in the statement.

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