Neil Gorsuch is in at the Supreme Court following the passing of Judge Antonin Scalia – and another judge could be coming soon.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made it clear that she’ll stay on the Court through 2017, but has stated that she’ll take stock “year-by-year” in deciding when to retire. If Trump is in office for eight years, it’s practically a guarantee Ginsburg will have stepped down by then. Not to think in callous terms either, but given her age, there’s a nine percent chance she’ll pass away this year, a ten percent chance the following year, and an eleven percent chance the year after that.
But before any of those scenarios are to play out, Anthony Kennedy could be the next out.
According to CNN, Friends and associates believe Kennedy is seriously considering retirement. In general, the burdens of age and demands at the court weigh in one direction. His deep interest — and leading role — in America’s constitutional democracy weigh in the other.
The question appears not to be whether Kennedy will retire soon, but when — at the end of this June, or next?
Replacing staunch conservative Justice Antonin Scalia with the likeminded 49-year-old Gorsuch may not change the direction of the court. The political and legal stakes, however, would be dramatically higher if Trump has the opportunity to fill Kennedy’s seat. Kennedy, a centrist conservative, has cast a key vote for gay marriage, abortion rights, affirmative action, and fair housing law.
Kennedy controls the outcome of cases like no other justice in more than a decade. With four conservatives to his right, four liberals to his left, he often holds the decisive vote on business and regulatory matters as well.
In response to a request from CNN, Kennedy, a 1988 appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan, declined to comment on his retirement plans. He also declined to respond to questions related to any private meeting with anyone from the Trump administration.
Not long after Gorsuch was nominated, both President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz predicted another vacancy as early as this summer.
Prior to nominating Gorsuch, Trump’s “Supreme Court shortlist” had been narrowed down to Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman.
Supreme Court Justice Thomas Hardiman: coming soon? We shall see…
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]