Kennedy’s Retirement and the Future

Jun 27, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced today that he will retire from the High Court effective July 31, 2018.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Kennedy wrote: “For a member of the legal profession, it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court. Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.”

Kennedy, 81, has held the most important seat on the Court for more than a decade because he has been the swing vote on issues ranging from abortion and affirmative action to same-sex unions and capital punishment, often siding with the Court’s more liberal justices. President Trump will now have another chance to fundamentally reshape the top of the judiciary and to create a solidly conservative court that could last for decades. 

“The Supreme Court is why many people voted for President Donald Trump,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “With Justice Kennedy’s retirement, the next justice will have a huge impact on the future of America.”

On abortion, Justice Kennedy has waffled on both sides. Following the oral argument in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the justices voted 5-4 to overrule the 1973 abortion opinion of Roe v. Wade. Justice William Rehnquist began writing the opinion in which Kennedy was in the majority. But after 30 days being lobbied by Justices O’Connor and Souter, Kennedy changed his mind. On the last day in May 1992, he met with Justice Blackmun who was still on the Court and who authored the Roe opinion. He switched his vote to uphold Roe v. Wade with modifications. The opinion was taken from Rehnquist, and, in a rare move, the opinion was authored by O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter.

In 2000, Justice Kennedy was the swing vote to strike down a law which sought to ban the brutal Partial Birth Abortion procedure. In 2007, Kennedy changed his mind and authored the opinion that upheld a virtually identical law that banned Partial Birth Abortion.

On June 26, 2015, Justice Kennedy in a 5-4 vote authored the opinion that struck down marriage laws and ushered in nationwide marriage between two people of the same sex. Chief Justice John Roberts criticized this opinion, stating it was not based on the Constitution or the Court precedents and was merely the imposition of the will of “five lawyers.”

Justice Kennedy has been the author of two other cases that trumpeted the LGBT agenda. He has been the darling justice of LGBT supporters.

“If Justice Kennedy is replaced with a person who is faithful to the original text and meaning of the Constitution, then it is just a matter of time before several horrible decisions are reversed, including abortion and same-sex marriage,” said Staver. “Justice Kennedy’s replacement marks a turning point in America. It is beyond time for the Court to reclaim its prestige of being a neutral interpreter of the Constitution rather than an activist political branch,” said Staver.

“A new day is dawning in America. I look forward to having a justice who will respect and apply the original text and meaning of the Constitution,” concluded Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.