Image Credits: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

The world was shocked on Wednesday, June 27th when, along with handing down an opinion against mandatory union fees, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring from the court. His resignation is effective July 31st, 2018.

Kennedy is 81-years-old and the longest-serving current justice on the Court. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and joined the court in 1988. Kennedy has long been considered the swing vote of the court. If he is successfully replaced with a conservative judge chosen by the Trump administration, the court will likely lean conservative for many years to come.

Anthony Kennedy is a graduate of Harvard Law School and was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Gerald Ford in 1975. When Reagan nominated him for the Supreme Court, his appointment was unanimous. He has written the majority opinion in such cases as Citizens United v FEC and Obergfell v Hodges.

You may be asking, what happens next? The Trump administration has already appointed one Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, who has been a champion for conservative ideology and the Constitution in his short tenure on the bench. His appointment was contentious though. The Senate had withheld a vote on Obama’s nominee for the position, Merrick Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in early 2016. They also changed the rules of the Senate in the process of approving Gorsuch to the court. While this seat is less contentious in background, it is unlikely to be an easy route forward. 2018 is a big year in terms of midterm elections and Democrats are eager to reclaim as much ground as they can, even if they can’t do anything about President Trump. Without a doubt, Trump’s nominee will face a tough confirmation process from the left.

In terms of who to expect, it’s likely that Trump will once again rely on recommendations put forth by the Heritage Foundation as he did with Neil Gorsuch and promised to do going forward. You can read about their list of Supreme Court potentials here. As of the writing of this article, no official statement from President Trump has been released, though one is no doubt imminent.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member