With the Supreme Court nearing its final week before its summer hiatus, multiple reports are speculating the future of Justice Anthony Kennedy and his anticipated retirement.
According to CNN and the Associated Press, Kennedy signaled his possible career announcement this weekend with the arrival of dozens of his former clerks in Washington D.C. for a private clerk reunion. While such reunions are regular, Kennedy’s gathering was pushed up a year ahead of schedule, leading to speculation that the 80-year-old justice might soon be leaving.
Despite this, Kennedy hasn’t indicated any intentions of retiring. The move would allow President Donald Trump to continue nominating staunchly conservative candidates to the post and give conservatives control of the court. Trump’s nomination, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April.
Kennedy, a conservative who is known as the swing justice on the court because he often breaks a 4-4 tie between the conservatives and the liberals on the court, has oftentimes voted in line with the left-leaning justices on abortion rights and affirmative action. Kennedy is best known for his opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage in 2015.
On Monday, the justices are expected to decide on a case regarding school vouchers, as well as Trump’s 90-day ban of travelers from Muslim countries.
“As the court’s most important Justice—at the center of the institution’s ideological balance—Justice Kennedy’s ability to bridge the divide between left and right on critical issues such as the right to access abortion cannot be overstated,” Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, told CNN. “Replacing Justice Kennedy with a Trump nominee would almost certainly sound the death knell for Roe [v. Wade], just as candidate Trump promised during the 2016 campaign.”
H/T the Hill