Because absolutely nothing gold can stay, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced today that he is retiring, handing President Donald Trump his second vacancy to fill on the nation’s highest court and giving him a perfect opportunity to drag the court even further to the right.
In a letter submitted to Trump, Kennedy said his retirement would be effective July 31.
“It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement.
While Kennedy was appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan, he’s been a deciding swing vote during his tenure, providing the key vote on issues like same sex marriage, campaign finance, and abortion.
His departure is also certain to decisively shift the ideological leanings of the court for decades to come—the consequences of which we’ve already started to see since Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch. In this session alone, the conservative court has dealt a crippling blow to public sector unions and upheld Trump’s Muslim ban.
Update, 2:30 pm: In remarks to reporters, Trump reportedly said whoever he picks to replace Kennedy “will be somebody from that list,” a reference to the list of possible nominees he released on Nov. 17, 2017.
The first reaction out of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office came via NBC News’ Frank Thorp, who reported McConnell’s spokesman indicating Republicans will try to fill the vacancy before the election. (McConnell was already doing a victory lap yesterday after a string of hard-right Supreme Court decisions were released.)
Update, 2:41 pm: McConnell made it official, via CNN’s Phil Mattingly and the AP:
Update, 2:51 pm: While walking off the Senate floor, McConnell, political disingenuousness incarnate, reportedly also said Trump’s next pick should be treated “fairly.”
According to McConnell, the code of conduct that led him to block Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to succeed Antonin Scalia, won’t apply in the fall, since it’s not a presidential election year:
This is a developing story and will be updated.