Kennedy Announces Retirement From Supreme Court. Trump to Appoint Another Justice.

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The make-up of the Supreme Court is about to be shaken once again. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday that he will retire. The news comes in President Trump’s second year and tasks him with replacing Justice Kennedy. The choice will likely swing the court farther to the political right.

“The 81-year-old senior associate justice informed the White House in a letter of his intention to step down from the high court after 30 years, effective July 31,” Fox writes. “Rumors of another vacancy have reverberated across Washington in recent months, and it comes a year after Kennedy’s former law clerk Justice Neil Gorsuch, took over the seat occupied by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.”

Any appointment Trump might make, as a result, will have to be confirmed. That process will not be easy.

“Arguably the most powerful member of the Supreme Court, Kennedy’s moderate-conservative views often left him the ‘swing’ — or deciding — vote in hot-button cases ranging from abortion to gay rights to political campaign spending,” Fox notes.

This news comes just in time for the upcoming midterm elections. The vacancy will shift the political debates ahead of that election and will likely become a rallying point for Democrats who hope to secure a majority to oppose nominees.

Congress has the responsibility of confirming Trump’s nominations. The vote is decided by a simple majority. After Justice Gorsuch’s nomination, Republican leaders changed the voting rules. There is no longer a need for nominees to get 60 votes.

“Democrats are expected to try and transform the court opening into a broader political referendum on Trump’s leadership,” Fox writes, “and the future of social issues like immigration, gun rights, and race.”

While Democrats are already preparing their arguments on these issues, the new momentum from this news will surely intensify their efforts. Republicans are hoping to communicate the urgency of the nomination process and hope that they see better than expected voter turnout to help secure their majority.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy to the Supreme Court in 1987. Kennedy was sworn in on February 18, 1988.