Kennedy’s Retirement and the Future

Jun 27, 2018

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. With Justice Kennedy’s retirement, the next justice will have a huge impact on the future of America,” said Mat Staver.

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.

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