January 20, 2019

US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces retirement

01 July 2018, 11:48 | Dale Webster

Donald Trump to get second Supreme Court pick as Justice Anthony Kennedy retires

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy prepares to testify before the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill

For years, Kennedy infuriated conservatives with decisions striking down prayer at public school graduations and upholding abortion rights - and exasperated liberals with decisions on affirmative action and campaign finance laws.

Thapar, 49, was handpicked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to serve as the USA attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

The conservative justice, who turns 82 in July, is the second-oldest on the nine-member court.

Although Republicans are in the majority, Trump's nominee is not assured of confirmation. But he was blocked by Senate Republicans, who refused to approve a Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year. When President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch previous year, he tipped the balance in favor of conservatives.

Trump has indicated that he will likely choose a nominee from an existing list of candidates that he compiled before nominating Gorsuch.

"It will be somebody from that list", Trump said.

The question emerging now in the Senate is whether Democrats will put up a fight to block the confirmation of a Trump nominated judge.

Trump began a meeting with de Sousa in the Oval Office reacting to the breaking news that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was retiring, giving Trump a golden chance to cement conservative control of the high court.

Majority Whip John Cornyn, who learned the news from reporters at Capitol Hill, said the process of replacing Kennedy "energizes" conservatives.

"I'm anxious about Roe v. Wade", Merkley said in another tweet about the landmark decision in 1973 that recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. Finally, in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), he led the Court in recognizing a constitutional right to gay marriage.

Republicans now hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Senator John McCain of Arizona.

"Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president's nominee, and their voices deserve to be heard", said Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the US Senate. Joe Biden (in 1992) and Chuck Schumer (in 2007) that the Senate shouldn't confirm a nominee in the final year of a presidency.

Trump could also consider three federal judges he interviewed before selecting Neil Gorsuch to fill an earlier vacancy: William Pryor of Alabama, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania and Amul Thapar of Kentucky.

He called Kennedy a "spectacular man" with "tremendous heart" and said he hoped to pick somebody who will be as "outstanding" as Kennedy has been. In October, Kavanaugh dissented when his court ruled that a teenage migrant in federal custody should be able to obtain an abortion immediately.

Regardless of who replaces him, Kennedy's departure will be a massive change for the high court, where he has been the crucial swing vote for more than a decade.

"It's imperative that the president's nominee be considered fairly and not subjected to personal attacks", McConnell went on.

Kennedy's retirement is likely to elevate the issue of the Supreme Court in the November 6 midterm elections, in which Democrats are seeking to wrest the House and Senate from Republican control.

Looking ahead to Kennedy's replacement, "I expect a spirited fight both in the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor", said Julius Hobson, Jr., JD, senior policy advisor at Polsinelli, a consulting firm here.

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