Civil and Human Rights

Liberals Want Pro-Abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy to Stay So Trump Doesn’t Replace Him

By Micaiah Bilger

Pro-abortion liberals are getting worried about speculations that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could retire soon.

Reuters reports some liberal groups are urging Kennedy to stay because they are concerned about who President Donald Trump would nominate to replace him.

One particular concern is the future of abortion laws and Roe v. Wade. Trump promised to nominate “pro-life” justices to the high court, and Kennedy’s retirement could mean a pro-life justice would fill his spot and swing the court toward life-affirming decisions.

Kennedy, a moderate on the court, turns 81 this summer, and several Republicans and former clerks said he is thinking about retiring soon. The justice himself declined to comment.

According to Reuters, some of Kennedy’s former clerks are being asked to urge him to put off retirement. Liberal groups, including the Constitutional Accountability Center and the Center for American Progress, also started media campaigns recently to highlight Kennedy’s liberal decisions.

Another liberal group, People for the American Way, described Kennedy’s possible retirement under Trump as a “disaster for the rights of all Americans,” the report states.

Kennedy’s decisions on abortion and religious liberties have been mixed. Generally, he has sided with the pro-abortion justices on abortion cases, as he did last summer when the court struck down a Texas abortion clinic regulations law. However, he has sided with pro-life justices on a few occasions, including his decision to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban in 2007.

Here’s more from Reuters:

Liberals want in part to protect the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. As a candidate, Trump said he would appoint court justices who would vote to overturn the decision.

Perhaps seeking to reassure Kennedy that his legacy is in safe hands, Trump has consistently praised the justice. At [new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil] Gorsuch’s swearing-in in April, Trump called Kennedy a “great man of outstanding accomplishment.”

Trump and other Republicans have said they have heard rumors that Kennedy might retire, but have not publicly urged him to.

The president has vowed to pick his next nominee the same way he chose Gorsuch, from a list of contenders he made public before the election.

Several other liberal justices on the high court also are getting older. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 84, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 78. Both are strongly pro-abortion, but there are no rumors of their retirement right now.

Pro-abortion liberals fear that if Kennedy or any other liberal justice retires, President Trump would replace them with someone who thinks unborn babies deserve a right to life.

In a November interview with 60 Minutes, Trump said: “I’m pro-life,” he said. “The judges will be pro-life.” He said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, states would gain back the power to make laws about abortion. However, he also said there is a “long way to go” before that happens.

During the campaign, Trump promised to appoint the kinds of judges that would please pro-life voters. He released two lists of potential Supreme Court nominees, both of which went over well with pro-life voters and organizations.

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