The judges who could replace swing-vote Anthony Kennedy

By Art Moore

U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 (Wikipedia)

U.S. Supreme Court in 2017. L-R, top row: Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch. L-R, bottom row: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer (Wikipedia)

The retirement of the U.S. Supreme Court’s swing vote, 81-year-old Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, would set up an epic confirmation battle in the Senate, with Democrats facing the possibility of a generational shift to the right.

The rumors of a Kennedy retirement are heating up again as court watchers point out that justices contemplating retirement usually choose to step down in the first two years of the presidency of the party that appointed them, the New York Times reports. Kennedy was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan.

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

The Times cited a 2010 study of justices who served between 1789 and 2006 that found justices not only try to retire when the president is of the same party as the one who appointed them, they try to retire early in a president’s term, generally in the first two years.

Already, Trump has delighted his conservative base with the appointment of Neil M. Gorsuch, who has agreed with the court’s most conservative member, Justice Clarence Thomas, 100 percent of the time. Gorsuch affirmed his fealty to constitutional originalism at a dinner last November in honor of the justice he succeeded, the late Antonin Scalia.

Kennedy has lined up with the four conservative justices on issues such as campaign finance and gun rights. But he also has sided with the liberal wing on issues such as same-sex marriage, homsexual rights and affirmative action.

The Times noted that in the divided cases in which Kennedy and Gorsuch participated in the court’s last term, they agreed just 38 percent of the time.

Court watchers, noting that since 1971, the average age of retirement for Click to see the original article      

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