UPDATE — 7/5, 11:52 p.m. EDT: Multiple media outlets are reporting President Trump is now considering only three candidates to nominate as Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement according to a White House source.
All three are federal appeals court judges and former Supreme Court law clerks: Amy Coney Barrett of Chicago’s Seventh Circuit; D.C. circuit’s Brett Kavanaugh; and Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.
The president will announce his nominee on Monday, July 9.
Anthony Kennedy, the senior Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Kennedy, who will turn 82 in July, released a statement through the Court’s press office which read:
“It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court.”
Kennedy will serve on the bench until July 31.
Paying tribute to Kennedy as a man of “tremendous vision,” a White House statement praised Kennedy for his role in key cases in front of the Court.
“During his tenure on the Court, he authored landmark opinions in every significant area of constitutional law, most notably on equal protection under the law, the separation of powers, and the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion,” the White House said in a statement.
A Reagan appointee who was elevated in 1988, Kennedy earned a reputation as a moderate jurist.
Often described as the Court’s “swing vote,” a term Kennedy disliked, in his three decades on the court it was not unusual to see Kennedy’s name appear siding with liberals in a slim majority, at times angering conservatives.
On contentious issues such as same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), Kennedy allied himself with the liberal bloc and wrote the majority opinion effectively legalizing the practice.
Two years earlier, in United States v. Windsor (2013), Kennedy again side with the liberal wing and authored the majority opinion striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
However, Kennedy did cast votes with the conservative wing of the court on equally important cases.
In 2010, Kennedy defended corporate donations as protected by the First Amendment in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) and later combined with conservatives to preserve gun rights in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).
A vacancy likely to set up a ferocious clash during confirmation hearings, President Trump is said to have assembled a short list of 25 potential candidates to replace the retiring Kennedy.
Those widely believed to be among Trump’s top choices include: Thomas Hardiman, who sits on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Raymond Kethledge, jurist on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Amy Coney Barrett, who is seated on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is also under consideration. Although Lee has not served on the bench, he previously clerked for Justice Samuel Alito.
Although Kennedy’s departure will not alter the ideological balance, which has favored conservatives for decades, his retirement has touched off bitter memories and sparked conversation among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) both vowed to hold hearings and confirm a Trump nominee.
In contrast, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told reporters Trump’s list of possible replacements were “non-starters.”
Harris was seconded by Illinois two Democratic senators, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, both of whom said the confirmation hearings and vote should be postponed until after the 2018 midterm elections.
McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday a vote to replace Kennedy will be held in the fall.
[Roll Call] [ABC News] [The Hill] [NBC News] [AP] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Daily Wire]