Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Justice Anthony Kennedy Retiring; Donald Trump Gets 2nd Supreme Court Pick

Justice Anthony Kennedy Retiring; Donald Trump Gets 2nd Supreme Court Pick

Kennedy cast decisive votes backing gay rights on four occasions, most notably in 2015 when the court legalized same-sex marriage.

Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday (June 27), letting Trump pick a second member of the high court after Neil Gorsuch in 2017. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.

President Donald Trump is deflecting a question on whether he should wait until after the midterm elections to announce a successor to retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But picking an ultra-conservative as his nominee would carry risk because Trump would have to rely on some moderate Republicans to win approval in the U.S. Senate, where his fellow Republicans have a narrow majority.

He also urged voters to elect more Republicans in November to ensure conservative power in the judiciary. Republicans are fighting to maintain control of both houses of Congress, with opinion polls showing Democrats have a strong chance of winning back the House of Representatives.

"I expect the nominee to be like Justice Gorsuch, to demonstrate excellence in every respect, and to earn widespread support from the American people, and bipartisan support for confirmation in the Senate", Leo said. If so, he or she will provide a fifth vote for the court's conservatives rather than its liberals - and over time reshape the US legal landscape.

Without Kennedy, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans.

Of his travel ban, which prohibits visitors and immigrants from five Muslim-majority countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, Trump called it a "common-sense policy to improve vetting and national security".

Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington, was seen by some legal experts on Wednesday as the front-runner on President Trump's list of contenders to fill the vacancy left by Kennedy's retirement.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, said Kennedy's role as the deciding votes in big cases means this confirmation fight will be more consequential than any in decades.

That list included two judges with Michigan connections: Judge Raymond Kethledge, on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, and then-Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who previous year was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to join Kethledge on the Sixth Circuit.

Contentious confirmation hearings in the Senate delayed his confirmation until 2006.

She noted that Trump has previously pledged "to nominate only pro-life judges to the Supreme Court".

In the spring of 2016, before his election, Trump issued a list of 11 conservative judges he considered "representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value" and saying he would use it as "a guide to nominate our next United State Supreme Court justices". "And hopefully we're going to pick somebody who will be as outstanding".

Leonard Leo, an outside advisor to Trump on judicial nominations who is on leave from his post at the Federalist Society, said Trump's list of potential nominees for this vacancy includes numerous very best judges in America.

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