Courts

Supreme Court Retirement Talk Focuses on Pivotal Justice Kennedy

Now that Justice Neil Gorsuch is officially sworn into the Supreme Court to return the bench to a full nine seats, talk of whom among the current justices will be first to retire is increasing in Washington.

And most of that talk is centered on Justice Anthony Kennedy who is 80 and not in particularly great health. Rumors are increasing that he is planning to leave after this year’s court term or possibly next year.

Either way, a Trump appointment could finally swing the court solidly to the conservative side and make it the most conservative court since FDR was elected president.

Here’s more from Bloomberg…

Justice Anthony Kennedy reclaimed his position as the man in the middle of the U.S. Supreme Court when he swore in Neil Gorsuch, his former law clerk, as the newest justice.

The question is whether Kennedy wants to keep that pivotal role in close decisions for longer than a few more months.

Long before Gorsuch took his oath of office Monday, speculation was swirling that Kennedy might retire at the end of the term. President Donald Trump’s aides are preparing for the prospect of a new nomination while liberals brace for what could be a seismic shift on the court.

Kennedy, 80, has been the court’s primary pivot point since 2006, generally aligning with the four conservatives on campaign finance and voting rights and with the four liberals on gay rights. By selecting Kennedy’s successor, Trump could finally create the five-member majority that legal conservatives have envisioned for decades — one that might overturn long-standing precedents including the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling.

“Kennedy leaving and being replaced by a Trump pick will almost certainly move the court to the right and perhaps make the court the most conservative court we have had since the 1930s,” said Neal Devins, a William & Mary Law School professor who is co-writing a book on the court and its partisan divisions.

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