By Miriam Raftery
June 27, 2018 (Washington D.C.)- Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced he will retire on July 31st. Kennedy has long been a swing vote on key issues including abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action, often siding with liberal justices in the key years.
Many key rulings have been decided by a single one-vote margin, so the 82-year-old justice’s retirement means President Donald Trump will have an opportunity to secure solid conservative control of the high court, potentially for decades to come.
Trump has already compiled a list of nominees, all right-wing conservatives, and has said he will make overturning the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion a priority in choosing the next justice.
The President’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. During the Obama administration, a Republican-controlled Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s liberal nominee from even being heard and refused to take up any nomination during Obama’s final year in office.
But Democrats don’t have enough members in the Senate to block Trump’s nominee. Even if ailing Republican Senator John McCain were to be unable to cast a vote, Vice President Mike Pence could cast the deciding vote to put Trump’s nominee on the bench.
Democrats could succeed in blocking an extremist on key issues, however, by persuading moderate Republicans such as Maine Senator Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski to vote against a nominee expected to overturn rights for women.