Civil and Human Rights

Kennedy Retirement May Ignite Battle For Supreme Court

By Sloan Toth

With the current Supreme Court session quickly coming to a close, speculation has surfaced that Justice Anthony Kennedy might elect to retire from the the bench.

The pivotal vote in many court cases at the highest level, Kennedy’s projected retirement may ignite a heated battle for his seat, according to Fox News.

Kennedy’s possible retirement would mean a chance for the Trump administration to fill the vacancy with a Justice who might fill the shoes of Kennedy as the game-changing voice.

Good Morning America’s Terry Moran voiced his take on the possible loss of Kennedy, according to MRC:

“This would be huge… Justice Kennedy — this in many ways is the Kennedy Court, he’s the swing vote for more than a decade on crucial issues, abortion, affirmative action, the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans, including marriage. He has been the crucial vote. If he decides to retire, and there are signs that he would, it would be a war for this court like nothing seen in the past 30 years since the nomination of Robert Bork was defeated and Justice Kennedy took his seat.”

Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained Kennedy’s heavy influence on the Supreme Court.

“You can’t understand how important his affirmative action opinion is without understanding his earlier jurisprudence,” said Katyal.

“For decades, he has been the court’s most eloquent voice on the need to be color blind — why he changed his mind is something historians will debate for decades.”

Furthermore, Kennedy’s possible retirement is expected to shift the ideological balance.

“As the court’s most important Justice—at the center of the institution’s ideological balance—Justice Kennedy’s ability to bridge the divide between left and right on critical issues such as the right to access abortion cannot be overstated,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, according to Newsweek.

Wydra speculated that a Supreme Court replacement chosen by the Trump administration will probably move judgments in favor of more conservative political agendas.

“Replacing Justice Kennedy with a Trump nominee would almost certainly sound the death knell for [1973 abortion rights case “Roe v. Wade], just as candidate Trump promised during the 2016 campaign,” said Wydra.

Like many of his colleagues on the Supreme Court Bench, Kennedy’s age (80) has been a major talking point for those who anticipated his retirement.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump leveraged this discussion during his bid for The Oval Office, citing several judges who were getting along in years.

“If you really like Donald Trump, that’s great, but if you don’t, you have to vote for me anyway,” said Trump to Iowa Republican voters during the race for president, according to CNN.

“You know why? Supreme Court judges, Supreme Court judges. Have no choice, sorry, sorry, sorry. You have no choice.” 

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