SCOTUS Justice Puts Retirement Rumors To Rest — For Now

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will remain on the bench for at least another term, despite indications that his retirement was imminent.

Rumors abounded that Kennedy was preparing to depart the bench at the end of the Court’s current term in June 2017. Several signals tended strongly in the rumor’s favor.

Kennedy, for example, only hired one clerk for the coming term as of last month. This is highly unusual, as clerks are usually hired far in advance of their service on the Court. Secondly, he declined to teach over the summer at the McGeorge School of Law’s summer program in Salzburg, Austria, as is usually his custom. Finally, he scheduled his usual five-year reunion with his law clerks one year early, in 2017 instead of 2018.

It also bears noting that Kennedy is 80 years old, though by all accounts he is in good health. (RELATED: Merrick Garland Is Going Back To His Old Job)

New developments, however, suggest Kennedy plans to man his post on the high court for awhile longer. Above the Law (ATL) reports the justice has hired two additional clerks for the next term. ATL’s sprawling network of tipsters and well-placed informants usually leads them to break news on such hires. The identities of the two additional clerks have not yet been reported.

Kennedy is usually the swing vote among the justices, though he resents the characterization. President-elect Donald Trump will make at least one appointment to the Court, however, Kennedy’s vote will still be critical to the outcome of ideologically-charged cases that tend to divide the justices. As such, he will likely still enjoy his position of maximum influence for several years.

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