Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court effective July 31 of this year.
“It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” Kennedy said.
He decided to retire to spend more time with his family. Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, took the oath of office on February 18, 1988.
Kennedy in recent years has been the swing vote in some high-profile decisions. He was the author of the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized marriage between same-sex couples. He also wrote the majority opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
“For more than three decades, Justice Kennedy served with great distinction on the Supreme Court of the United States. He helped chart the course of American jurisprudence, and made his mark as a staunch defender of First Amendment rights, especially the freedom of speech and religious liberty. He set an example of integrity and wisdom that I hope all jurists will emulate. Justice Kennedy’s familiar presence on the high court will be missed. I wish him well in the years ahead,” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said.
“I expect the President will soon nominate someone for the Senate to consider. I encourage the President to choose a nominee with the credentials, intellect and commitment to the rule of law necessary to serve on the Supreme Court. I look forward to having the nominee before us in the Senate Judiciary Committee for his or her hearing in the weeks ahead,” he added.
“Today, we thank Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for his thirty years of distinguished service on the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1987, President Reagan nominated him to the Court, and he was swiftly confirmed without opposition. A Californian—like the President who appointed him—Justice Kennedy is a true man of letters. During his tenure on the Court, he authored landmark opinions in every significant area of constitutional law, most notably on equal protection under the law, the separation of powers, and the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion,” an official White House statement said.
“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,” the Trump administration added.
Conservatives have been happy with President Trump’s judicial picks so far and his first Supreme Court pick, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, has been a reliable addition to the court for those who favor an originalist jurist. Several conservative groups hope for a repeat and a consistent majority block on the Court.
“The Supreme Court is why many people voted for President Donald Trump,” Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said. “With Justice Kennedy’s retirement, the next justice will have a huge impact on the future of America.”
“Faced now with a vacancy on the Supreme Court, we urge President Trump to nominate a justice who will vigorously uphold the Constitution and protect the freedoms it guarantees. Much like the previous successes nominating fair and experienced jurists at every level of our judicial system, including Justice Neil Gorsuch, putting forward a nominee who will respect the rule of law and reject any attempt to legislate from the bench should be of utmost importance,” Mark Holden, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce Chair, said in a released statement.
“Today we acknowledge the historic legacy Justice Anthony Kennedy leaves behind. As a man who both understood and defined our American cultural moment, Justice Kennedy’s opinions and legal thought process have garnered respect from people across the spectrum of judicial philosophies. That is no small feat,” Michael Farris, CEO and General Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom said.
Farris said that ADF disagreed with Kennedy on decisions, like Obergefell, that “created rights” not found in the Constitution. He said they also praise his “insight and forceful celebration of First Amendment freedoms, his sensitivity to the danger of authoritarian government, and his refreshing desire to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech to future generations.”
“ADF looks forward to the president’s nomination of a person to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court who will uphold the First Amendment and the original public meaning of the Constitution,” he added.
“This is the moment conservative women have been waiting for — the chance to return justice and constitutional limits to the nation’s highest court. This is the reason why they voted overwhelmingly for Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton,” Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America, said in response to the news about Kennedy’s retirement.
“We want a Supreme Court that rejects the subjective ‘living, breathing’ constitutional philosophy which judicial activist have used to force liberal political policies on the country under the guise of law. It is time for a Supreme Court that returns power to ‘We the People,'” she added.
Nance noted that judicial vacancies are the primary reason President Trump enjoys widespread support among evangelicals.
“This is why 81% of Evangelical women voted for President Trump. He was clear from the beginning on the credentials and judicial philosophy he would require of any of his appointees to both the high and lower courts. He has delivered on that promise like no other president in history,” Nance said.
She also said they expect a fight.
“We know what the opposition will do, no matter whom the president chooses. Their hatred for anything the president does is evident to the country by now. But they are out of ideas. We know the script and expect the phony hysteria to reach its climax with the help of the liberal media,” Nance noted.
“Concerned Women for America is gearing up for our biggest and perhaps most important confirmation battle in our almost 40-year history. We plan to devote considerable resources to this effort, and we expect to win.”