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What happens at the Supreme Court after Kennedy retires?

01 July 2018

Supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy, who has provided crucial swing votes in cases governing core progressive issues including abortion rights and same-sex marriage, announced his retirement Wednesday in a decision likely to send shockwaves into every corner of USA civic life.

Kennedy's retirement is likely to elevate the issue of the Supreme Court in the November 6 midterm elections, in which Democrats are seeking to wrest the House and Senate from Republican control. And the stakes only got higher when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, the man outgoing President Barack Obama had nominated to fill the Scalia vacancy.

Many people with a limited understanding of Kennedy's involvement in healthcare cases associate him with three markers - limiting the burdens that the federal government places on states, preservation of broad rights to abortion, and readiness to overturn the entire ACA, Tom Miller, JD, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank, said in an email.

The landmark ruling guaranteeing a woman's right to an abortion is likely to be struck down soon now that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has made a decision to retire, one of his former law clerks said Wednesday. But Republicans were twice as likely to say it's the right amount of partisan - 22% to Democrats' 11% and independents' 10%. "President Trump and the U.S. Senate have an ideal opportunity to restore the rule of law and create a culture of life".

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop would not have had to defend his decision to decline to bake a cake for a gay couple all the way back to the Supreme Court.

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McConnell changed the Senate rules past year to ensure confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee with a simple majority, disposing of the filibuster.

Feinstein praised Kennedy as a "pivotal and important Supreme Court justice for many years".

The politics of the replacement of Kennedy began immediately.

Jerry Johnson, president of National Religious Broadcasters, joined many in noting the importance of Kennedy's replacement.

Kethledge, a circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, clerked for Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

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But they, or at least those of them who remember "Macbeth", might now say that nothing in Kennedy's career became him like the leaving it.

Without Kennedy, she said, the court would have overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case establishing a woman's right to abortion. That cleared the way for Neil M. Gorsuch to fill a high court vacancy that had remained open for more than a year - thanks to McConnell.

Republicans changed Senate rules previous year to get Trump's conservative nominee, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed, lowering the threshold to advance Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority vote.

CBS News' Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett points out that Kennedy's retirement is a campaign gift to Republicans and the president. He often sided with the liberal justices on social issues, such as the legalization of gay marriage in 2017 and a decision in 1992 that reaffirmed Roe v. Wade. He announced some of those names during the 2016 campaign, seemingly using the list of potential judges to soothe conservative voters who felt uneasy about his candidacy.

The other two older justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, and Stephen Breyer, 79, are Democratic appointees who would not appear to be going anywhere during a Trump administration if they can help it.

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What happens at the Supreme Court after Kennedy retires?