Justice Kennedy to retire, Trump has chance to reshape Supreme Court

Anthony Kennedy

President Donald Trump on Saturday said he'll name his pick to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court on July 9, "the first Monday after the July 4th Holiday".

According to a list of Supreme Court nominations on the U.S. Senate's website, three presidents did not nominate any justices to serve on the nation's high court: Jimmy Carter, Zachary Taylor and William Henry Harrison. Trump himself took the unusual step of publicly releasing a list of Supreme Court candidates, most of whom were traditional jurists that many Republicans believed would uphold conservative values.

While Trump did not make rolling back abortion rights a central plank of his campaign, numerous conservative rank and file want Roe v. Wade overturned and Trump promised to put anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court.

During the candidate vetting the last time, the White House asked all the contenders whom they would pick instead of themselves - and they all said Gorsuch, said the person, who was not authorized to disclose private conversations.

"Outside of war and peace, of course, the most important decision you make is the selection of a Supreme Court judge, if you get it", Trump said.

"It's a great group of intellectual talent. they are generally conservative", he said, without naming any names. Gorsuch cleared the Senate - only after McConnell pushed through a rules change to end the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees and lower the threshold for confirmation from 60 to a simple majority - with 54 votes.

Kennedy on Tuesday joined the court's four other conservatives in giving Trump a huge legal victory by upholding the Republican president's travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

In an interview with NPR, Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins called the retirement of the court's swing vote "a day that we've been waiting for". The 53-year-old appeals court judge is a former clerk for Justice Kennedy.

Maslin said the court opening might even end up helping the Democratic incumbents if voters become anxious that a tilt to the right will endanger abortion rights, gay rights and access to health care.

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Krasnoff, of Planned Parenthood, said abortion-rights advocates also will be lobbying senators to vote against any nominee seen as likely to overturn Roe. Republicans have a narrow, 51-seat majority, and all eyes will be on a handful of Republicans who have been supportive of abortion rights, and on red-state Democrats facing re-election in November.

"You need a senator who doesn't just talk like they're from North Dakota, but votes like they're from North Dakota".

MS and Louisiana recently passed legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks with limited exceptions.

That's true, and it's the goal of many abortion-rights opponents, some of whom downplay the idea that abortion could become illegal nationwide.

The Senate is bracing for Trump to announce a quick nominee as soon as July 10.

"If he picks somebody that's hardcore on Roe v. Wade or that's hardcore on repealing healthcare that's a bigger lift", Manchin said.

"What I most liked about Justice Kennedy is he did not identify with any ideological bloc on the court but rather was a justice who evaluated every case, not ideologically, but based on its merits and adherence to the law and the Constitution", Collins said.

A key part of the vetting process will likely be reviewing the judge's history of written opinions, said a person with knowledge of Trump's thinking, who noted that the range of Gorsuch's past opinions impressed Trump.

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