1529691719736 6 - Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court: His legacy and the future of his seat

Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court: His legacy and the future of his seat

Politics

The 81-year-old Kennedy said he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the Supreme Court.

The 81-year-old Kennedy said he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the Supreme Court.

After serving on the Supreme Court for more than 30 years, Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement — leaving an open seat on the nation’s highest court for President Trump to fill. 

Kennedy, 81, said his retirement will be effective July 31. Last year, his former law clerk Neil Gorsuch took over the Supreme Court seat once occupied by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Read on for a look at Kennedy’s time on the nation’s highest court and what’s next for the vacant seat. 

Kennedy first took his seat on the Supreme Court on seat February 18, 1988. He was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican. 

He’s been a Supreme Court justice longer than any current member.

By the end of his tenure, Kennedy was considered to be a swing vote on the court — although it wasn’t always that way. When he was first seated, Kennedy was considered to be part of the Court’s more conservative block. 

In April 2018, The New York Times’ editorial board publicly asked Kennedy to avoid retiring, saying, “Your record is more conservative than liberal, but there’s no question that you are less of an ideologue than anyone President Trump would pick.” 

In a statement regarding his retirement, the White House praised Kennedy for having “authored landmark opinions in every significant area of constitutional law, most notably on equal protections under the law, the separation of powers and the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion.”

In 1992, Kennedy joined Justices David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor in co-writing the Supreme Court’s opinion in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. That case upheld women’s right to have an abortion but also gave states more authority in how to regulate it. 

In keeping with his penchant for believing in individual rights Kennedy agreed with the Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015. 

A Supreme Court vacancy will likely become a key issue in a midterm congressional election year, when control of the Senate is at stake.

That body will consider Trump’s latest high court nominee, requiring only a simple majority for confirmation. GOP leaders changed the rules when Neil Gorsuch was being considered, to get rid of the 60-vote procedural filibuster threshold.

Fox News’ Shannon Bream, Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.