Kennedy’s Mixed Legacy and the Coming Fight to Replace Him
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FEATURING COREY BRETTSCHNEIDER – Just hours after delivering a third body blow to the nation with his vote against unions in the Janus ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The 81-year old often sided with conservatives but on some issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, and the death penalty, he tended to join his liberal colleagues on the court.
The timing of his retirement offers Donald Trump the chance to nominate a second justice to the court and the President has already drawn up a short list, claiming he would like to see someone serve on the court for at least 40 years. On Wednesday at a rally in Fargo, North Dakota Trump boasted that the timing of Kennedy’s retirement was a compliment to him.
Democrats immediately protested the Republican President’s right by invoking GOP Senator Mitch McConnell’s unethical blocking of Obama’s appointment after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. Progressive Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “Mitch McConnell should follow the Mitch McConnell rule. Let the American people have a say when women’s health and equal rights are on the line.” The hashtag #MidtermsBeforeSCOTUS has begun trending wildly.
Corey Brettschneider, professor of political science at Brown University. He is the author of When the State Speaks, What Should It Say: How Democracies Can Protect Expression and Promote Equality and Trump vs. The Constitution. His forthcoming book is called The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents.