If Democrats thought it was hard to stop President Donald Trump’s first U.S. Supreme Court nominee, it promises to be even tougher for them if he gets to fill another vacancy, potentially to replace the most influential justice, Anthony Kennedy.
Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes sides with the court’s liberals in key cases such as on gay rights and abortion, is one of three justices 78 or older. Justice Stephen Breyer is 78 and fellow liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 84.
Former Kennedy Supreme Court clerks said the justice, who turns 81 in July, may be pondering retirement either this year or in 2018.
That would give Trump a further chance to shape the court after his first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was sworn in on Monday for the lifetime job to replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia after overcoming fierce Democratic opposition in the Senate confirmation process.
Kennedy administered Gorsuch’s judicial oath at a White House ceremony, and Trump heaped praise on a justice who has spent nearly three decades on America’s top court, calling him “a great man of outstanding accomplishment.”
Gorsuch is one of Kennedy former clerks. Kennedy is planning a reunion of his clerks in June rather than next year as had been expected. Kennedy, through a court spokesman, declined to comment on his plans.
The implications for the court if Kennedy were to step down are enormous. For the past decade he been its swing vote in…
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