Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring by July is likely, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced this week. If so, it would be a massive shakeup to America’s highest court.
“What I’m hearing is that he is at least considering it, and that it is a very real possibility,” Lee said during a Fox News Radio interview, according to the Washington Examiner.
An 81-year-old native of California, Kennedy has been serving as a U.S. Supreme Court justice since 1988 after being appointed to the position by President Ronald Reagan.
Why would his retirement be so significant at this particular time?
Kennedy is not a reliable conservative, according to the National Catholic Register. When Democrats and Republicans on the Supreme Court are at odds, Kennedy often casts the deciding vote, and he hasn’t made conservatives happy with his decisions defending gay marriage and abortion.
But if he retires soon, President Trump would be able to nominate a staunch conservative before Congress sees a possible shift in power to the Democrats in November. With Democrats in charge, a Trump nominee could get delayed for a long time.
The liberal New York Times Editorial Board recently begged Kennedy to not retire, writing that, “Your vote, more than that of any other justice, has delivered landmark legal victories for Americans of all political stripes, from gays and lesbians seeking equal rights to African-American college students seeking a better education to deep-pocketed corporations seeking to spend more money influencing politics.”
On the other hand, Kennedy has also sided with Hobby Lobby and favored the First Amendment and individual liberty.
In his interview, Lee also noted that “What I also heard is that having been appointed by President Reagan in the late 1980’s, he considers himself a Republican and with all things being equal would like to be replaced by a Republican President,” according to the Washington Times.