White House sources think Justice Anthony Kennedy might announce his retirement from the Supreme Court Monday, Mike Allen reports.
The announcement would give President Trump the opportunity to replace Kennedy — who leans right but serves as the ideological center of the court — with a more conservative justice. A second Trump appointment of a justice along the ideological lines of Neil Gorsuch would put the balance of the court at five conservative justices to four liberal justices.
“Replacing Kennedy would be even more historic and consequential: a momentous chance to edge the Court right, since Kennedy is the center of the Court — the one most willing to listen to both sides,” Allen writes in his politics newsletter. “On a controversial case, both sides pitch to him. It’s been called ‘Kennedy’s Court.'”
Kennedy has sat on the court nearly 30 years, making him the longest serving of the current justices.
The news is largely speculation from inside the beltway — those in the know aren’t sure whether this will be the year he retires — but the consensus seems to be he will announce either this year or next. The White House has reportedly been quietly pressuring him to leave the bench sooner than later. (RELATED: These Reports Could Signify Kennedy Won’t Retire This Term)
Lyle Denniston, a journalist who has covered the court for nearly 60 years wrote of the possibility: “Although there have been no reliable signs that any of the Justices will announce retirement at the public session on Monday, rumors have continued to make the rounds that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who will be 81 in July, could reveal plans then to end his career.”
David Lat pushed back hard against the rumors in Above the Law, noting there is not conclusive evidence on when Kennedy will retire: “I won’t bury the lede, so here it is: based on reports I’ve received from former AMK clerks who attended his law clerk reunion dinner last night, it is highly unlikely that Justice Kennedy will announce his retirement tomorrow.”
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