Skip links

Justice Kennedy Retires, and the Legal and Political Ramifications Are Immense

Earlier this afternoon, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Court observers long thought it was possible that he’d step down after this most recent term, but now it’s confirmed. The moment has arrived. In the first two years of his first term, President Trump is set to nominate just as many Supreme Court justices as Clinton, Bush, and Obama nominated in all eight years of their presidencies. That means that no matter what happens the rest of his presidency — whether it’s cut short by scandal or it extends to two full terms — he’ll make an indelible mark on the Court. Trump will have an enduring judicial legacy.

In fact, the consequences of Kennedy’s retirement — both legal and political — are immense. First, let’s look at the legal angle. While Kennedy’s judicial liberalism was often exaggerated (for example, he wrote or joined a number of solid opinions that protected and reaffirmed core constitutional liberties, including liberties protected by the First and Second Amendments), it’s a simple fact that as a “moderate” swing justice he served as the primary judicial guardian of abortion rights and was more responsible than any other justice for the relentless legal march of the sexual revolution. This tweet, from Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern, sums up the feeling on the left half of Twitter right now:

Read more at National Review. 

Share with Friends: