Justice Kennedy to retire Trump has chance to reshape Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said on Wednesday he plans to retire after three decades as a pivotal vote on the highest U.S. judicial body, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to make the court more firmly conservative.
Kennedy, who turns 82 in July and is the second-oldest justice on the nine-member court, has become one of the most consequential American jurists since joining the court in 1988 as an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan. A traditional conservative, he advanced gay rights, buttressed abortion rights and erased political spending limits.
His retirement, which takes effect on July 31, gives Trump a second Supreme Court appointment in his 17 months in office after the Republican president last year selected Neil Gorsuch, who has already become one of the most conservative justices.
Kennedy, mild-mannered and professorial, sometimes joined the liberal justices on key rulings, earning a reputation as the court's 'swing' vote who heartened conservatives and liberals alike, depending on the issue.
His retirement sets the stage for a major showdown in the Republican-led U.S. Senate over the confirmation of Trump's eventual pick for the lifetime appointment to replace Kennedy, all coming before November elections in which Democrats are seeking to seize control of Congress from Trump's Republicans.
'I'm very honored that he chose to do it during my term in office because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy,' Trump said of Kennedy at a rally in North Dakota on Wednesday night.....
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