BREAKING: Sen. Dean Heller States ‘Justice Kennedy is Going to Retire this Summer’
Rumors have been swirling in DC since last year that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire, and Senator Dean Heller seems to have just turned those rumors into confirmation.
Heller (R-Nev.) said in a speech last week that Justice Kennedy will retire this summer, according to an audio of the speech obtained by Politico.
“Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer,” Heller said in the speech, according to Politico. “Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated.”
At 81 years old, he is the second oldest of the Supreme Court justices, who serve for life, after liberal Bill Clinton’s choice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
It’s no secret that Justice Kennedy has been considering retirement for some time. He even made a sly joke about it at last year’s clerk reunion.
At the end of his remarks, he said something along these lines: “There has been a lot of speculation about… a certain announcement from me tonight. And that announcement is: the bar will remain open after the end of the formal program!”
It wouldn’t be effective until the end of the current term, around late June 2018. But Justice Kennedy was said to be planning on an early announcement to avoid a “Merrick Garland” situation. This would also have the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of SCOTUS becoming a big issue in the 2018 midterm elections.
Audio of Nevada’s Dean Heller speaking at a recent event in Las Vegas obtained by Politico showed his view that the departure of the justice would be a boost for his reelection campaign this fall.
Heller is facing a tough GOP primary challenge ahead of the 2018 midterm elections from Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian. Kennedy’s possible retirement has been rumored for months.
Last June, multiple reports said Kennedy was considering announcing his retirement.
But the 80-year-old justice seemingly quashed those rumors in January when he hired four law clerks for the October term.
Kennedy, who was appointed to the court by President Reagan in 1988, is considered the most pivotal justice on the Supreme Court and is often known for casting the tie-breaking vote in contentious decisions.
While he’s among the court’s conservative justices, he has sided with his liberal colleagues at times, including on the court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
If Kennedy were to retire, it would set up President Trump to fill a second Supreme Court seat after he nominated Neil Gorsuch last year to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, while President Obama was still in office.
Trump made the appointment of a new conservative justice to the court one of the main promises of his presidential campaign.
Justices often try to retire when the president is of the same party as the one who appointed them. Justice Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.
He is a moderate conservative, and there is no reason to think a president of either party would replace him with someone similar.
Conservative Ronald Reagan appointed Kennedy after the failed nomination of Robert Bork. But his judicial philosophy has placed him in the middle of the court on many important issues. It has given him an incredibly powerful position in the political life of the country.
According to Politico, Heller said “Mike Lee from Utah is probably on that short list of the next Supreme Court justice in our courts.”
Other potential replacements have not been named.
The two justices that are most likely to retire are Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Will it happen before 2020? Time will tell. They are both long past retirement age.
But Ginsburg is on a healthy exercise regiment and Kennedy seems to be moving along just fine.
Neither are what you would call Trump fans.
Kennedy may have a personal distaste for certain aspects of President Trump. However, Kennedy likes the President’s Supreme Court shortlist. It includes a number of former Kennedy law clerks. And remember that President Trump’s first SCOTUS nominee, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, is a former Kennedy clerk as well.
We will see!