President Donald Trump announced that he will immediately begin searching for a new Supreme Court Justice after Justice Anthony Kennedy said Wednesday that he will be retiring.
Kennedy’s retirement will give Trump the opportunity to drive the direction of the future of the Supreme Court by choosing his second justice on the court. Neil Gorsuch was placed on the court last year after Justice Anton Scalia passed away in 2016.
Now, Trump told reporters that his administration “will begin our search for a new justice of the United Supreme Court that will begin immediately,” CNBC reported.
The president will likely choose his next nominee for the court from a list of 25 candidates his campaign drafted after the 2016 election that was updated in November 2017. This list includes 24 judges and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
Judges Thomas Hardiman and William Proyer are also on the list and were considered potential nominations to replace Justice Scalia in January 2017, according to CBS News at the time.
“We have a very excellent list of great, talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people,” Trump said. “I think the list is very outstanding.”
Two U.S. officials familiar with the Trump administration told Bloomberg that federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh “is emerging as a top contender” for the position.
Kennedy has been the deciding swing vote in the court for over a decade, and his departure is sure to bring along major changes.
His retirement also puts more pressure on the Democratic Party as it prepares for the midterm elections and an attempt to take back the majorities in Congress.
Trump and the Republican Congressional leaders are seeking a speedy appointment of the next Supreme Court justice, Bloomberg reported. Gorsuch was nominated on Jan. 31 and confirmed three months later on April 7.
In fact, the president said he plans to make the appointment “as quickly as possible,” and Senate Majority Mitch McConnel added that he wants to hold a confirmation vote in the fall.
However, if they fail to confirm the nomination before the midterm elections and the elections end in Democrat majority control of the Senate, Trump may find difficulty getting his nominee confirmed.
The Republican Party currently has a 51-49 majority in the Senate. The 60-vote requirement to advance a Supreme Court nomination was also eliminated last year.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they should delay the confirmation vote until after the election, according to Bloomberg. “Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president’s nominee.”
Following Kennedy’s retirement announcement, Trump thanked the Justice for his service.
“He’s a man that I’ve known for a long time and a man that I’ve respected for a long time,” the president said of Kennedy, according to Breitbart. “Hopefully we’ll pick somebody that is as outstanding.”
Kennedy’s retirement will be effective on July 31.
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