Anthony Kennedy Retiring? Supreme Court Justice’s Retirement Would Let Trump Stack Court With Conservatives

Anthony Kennedy could soon be retiring, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court and giving Donald Trump the chance to add another member to the court after already placing one within his first 100 days.

The Supreme Court has less than a week remaining before adjourning for the summer, and there are intensifying rumors that Kennedy may be planning to retire sometime shortly afterward. Trump just nominated Neil Gorsuch to the seat vacated in early 2016 with the death of Antonin Scalia, and Kennedy’s retirement would give him the chance to add another conservative member and shift the balance for the foreseeable future.

Kennedy, who will turn 81 in July, has been on the court for close to three decades and those close to the justice say he is strongly considering retirement, the New York Daily News reported. Other sources close to Anthony Kennedy have also told CNN that the Supreme Court justice is “seriously considering” retiring.

Those close to Anthony Kennedy said a decision on his possible retirement could be coming very soon.

“Soon we’ll know if rumors of Kennedy’s retirement are accurate,” Orin Kerr, a former clerk to Kennedy and now a law professor at George Washington University, wrote on Twitter.

If the rumors are true, Anthony Kennedy’s retirement could have an enormous impact on the makeup of the Supreme Court. Donald Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch did little to actually change the ideological bend of the court, as he was replacing conservative Scalia. But Kennedy has been an important vote for many progressive issues.

Many experts predicted with Trump’s election in November that the court could shift sharply to the right, changing the makeup for decades.

“On the brink of having the first liberal-leaning Supreme Court in decades, the judicial left has now been banished to the wilderness for perhaps decades more,” Barry Friedman, a law professor at New York University, told the New York Times shortly after Trump’s victory in November. “It is difficult seeing a path to anything other than a yet more conservative court for the imaginable future.”


“In the worst case, we end up with a 7-2 conservative court, and a relatively young one at that,” Friedman added. “This could be a typhoon for the Supreme Court. An already very conservative jurisprudence will deepen and may broaden, encompassing areas that had long been resistant, such as abortion rights.”

The idea of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court was a rallying point both for Trump supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters leading into the 2016 election, with both sides seemingly allowing Scalia’s seat to remain vacant for the next president to fill. Republicans took the unprecedented step of refusing to fill the seat during an election year and Democrats offered little in the way of resistance, allowing both sides to gamble on winning the presidency and filling the seat.

If Anthony Kennedy is considering retirement, the Supreme Court justice is keeping those plans close to the vest. Newsweek noted that he has declined to answer questions about his future on the court.

[Featured Image by Eric Thayer/Getty Images]