After a 30-year career in the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy says he is retiring. That will give President Donald Trump the chance to cement conservative control of the high court.
The 81-year-old Kennedy said Wednesday he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court.
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.
The Catholic justice has previously sided with the liberal majority in many cases including same-sex marriage and abortion.
“The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons can together find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,” Kennedy wrote in the case to legalize same-sex marriage. “This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.”
Kennedy celebrated his 30th anniversary in February, and his retirement will begin on July 31.
After his departure, the court will be split between four liberal justices nominated by Democrat presidents and four conservative justices appointed by Republican presidents.
Kennedy has been the deciding swing vote in the court for over a decade, and his departure is sure to bring along major changes.
The news seems to solidify the future of the Supreme Court’s shift to the right, as Trump will likely select a conservative as Kennedy’s replacement in his second selection for the high court.
His first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017.
The appointment of a new justice could take place within the next few weeks.
The White House previously revealed that Trump would select the next nominee from a list of 25 candidates, including 24 judges and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
If the November elections end in Democrat majority control of the Senate, however, Trump may find difficulty getting his nominee confirmed.
According to Star Tribune, strong potential successors include “Judges Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania and William Pryor of Alabama, who was seriously considered for the seat eventually filled by Gorsuch, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington.”
This is a developing story.
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