Justice Kennedy retiring; Trump gets 2nd Supreme Court pick

Protesters gather at a rally in Washington on Oct. 17 2017. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  Manuel Balce Ceneta

Protesters gather at a rally in Washington on Oct. 17 2017. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Manuel Balce Ceneta

With the shocking news that Anthony Kennedy will be retiring from the Supreme Court, many celebrities voiced their concerns that President Donald Trump now has the power to appoint a conservative justice.

The 81-year-old Kennedy said in a statement he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court.

His retirement, which takes effect on 31 July, gives Mr Trump a second Supreme Court appointment in his 17 months in office after he selected Neil Gorsuch previous year, who has already become one of the most conservative justices. Although conservative, he sometimes joined the liberal wing of the court and authored landmark opinions on cases dealing with abortion, campaign finance and LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage.

Democrats were left irate in 2016, after a Republican-majority Senate refused to vote on Barack Obama's 2016 nominee Merrick Garland.

Prominent on that list are Judges Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania and William Pryor of Alabama, seriously considered for the seat eventually filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington, DC.




Republicans now hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Senator John McCain of Arizona. The last thing the large group of Democratic senators running in pro-Trump states need right now is a vote that could either infuriate the GOP's right-to-life base or discourage anti-Trump Democratic voters.

Kennedy, 81, spent the last of his three decades on the Supreme Court as the deciding vote on numerous court's most contentious cases. "For the past three decades or so, Justice Kennedy has been at the center of every major legal dispute to come to the court, and now that's no longer the case". If the Senate divides 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie to confirm the nominee.

Kennedy was nominated in 1987 by President Reagan to the court, after Robert Bork's nomination failed and Douglas Ginsburg was pressured to withdraw after questions were raised about his admission he had smoked marijuana several times. Should Republicans proceed with confirmation hearings before the November election?

There are only nine justices, who only get replaced if they retire or die, so who sits on it really matters.

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