Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of the high court’s most significant center-right judges, announced Wednesday he is retiring, opening up a major vacancy on the highest echelon of the judicial branch.
Kennedy, who turns 82 in July, announced he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the Supreme Court. His retirement will be effective July 31, according to the letter he sent to President Donald Trump:
Justice Kennedy retires pic.twitter.com/GRXyBBA6P9
— Adam Liptak (@adamliptak) June 27, 2018
Many recent reports have speculated Kennedy’s retirement was fast approaching, and GOP lawmakers have been not-so-quietly hoping the moderate justice would step down before the looming midterm elections, which could put a kink in the process to confirm his replacement on the bench, according to The Hill.
Several conservative thinkers and organizations were quick to react to the news on social media:
— AllianceDefends (@AllianceDefends) June 27, 2018
Oh my word. https://t.co/72dDpVxgub
— Andrew T. Walker (@andrewtwalk) June 27, 2018
Justice Amy Coney The Dogma Lives Loudly Barrett has a nice ring to it.
— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd) June 27, 2018
Trump had better appoint a solid, vetted originalist to replace Kennedy. Anything less will be a betrayal of epic proportions. https://t.co/kR5DjQPHMS
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 27, 2018
— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) June 27, 2018
Let me be the second. https://t.co/8ivVTABY8W
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) June 27, 2018
OMG WE ARE GOING TO GET ANOTHER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE IN THE FIRST TERM!!! IM ALMOST TIRED OF WINNING!!!
— Alex Stroman (@alexstroman) June 27, 2018
— Jenna Browder (@JennaBrowder) June 27, 2018
Kennedy was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan and confirmed in 1988 and has over the years molded himself as a center-right moderate, often playing a pivotal role in the Supreme Court’s most contentious decisions.
In a statement from the White House, the Trump administration described Kennedy as “a tireless voice for individual rights and the founders’ enduring vision of limited government,” adding, “His words have left an indelible mark not only on this generation, but on the fabric of American history.”
JUST IN: White House on Kennedy retirement: "Justice Kennedy has been a tireless voice for individual rights and the Founders’ enduring vision of limited government. His words have left an indelible mark not only on this generation, but on the fabric of American history." pic.twitter.com/PxbfIJzrJS
— ABC News (@ABC) June 27, 2018
Trump, who nominated conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, confirmed Wednesday he will choose Kennedy’s replacement from the list of potential Supreme Court nominees he published in November 2017.