Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire
U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, who is also a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, just released a statement calling on the Senate to wait to consider President Trump's nominee to replace Justice Kennedy until the new Congress is seated in January.
He cited precedent set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to hold a vote on Merrick Garland.
"Senator McConnell set the new standard by giving the American people their say in the upcoming election before Court vacancies are filled," Durbin said. "With so much at stake for the people of our country, the U.S. Senate must be consistent and consider the President’s nominee once the new Congress is seated in January."
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is set to retire by July 31. Here's a short list of possible nominees who President Trump could select to replace him:
- Brett Kavanaugh: He's a former Kennedy clerk. Kavanaugh was a late add to President Trump’s list of potential nominees, but many believe the 53-year-old judge who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, might be the favorite.
- Amy Coney Barrett: She's a former Notre Dame professor and former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia. Barrett was President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Raymond Kethledge: He also served as clerk for Kennedy. Kethledge, 51, currently sits on the 6th Circuit.His critics worry about an anti-union opinion he issued in a case brought by public school employees.
- Amul Thapar: He is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's favorite. He was handpicked from McConnell to serve at the US Attorney for the District of Kentucky.
- Sen. Mike Lee: Although Lee of Utah has never served as a judge, judicial conservatives feel confident that he would not surprise them on the Supreme Court.
- Thomas Hardiman: He was runner up for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's seat.
President Trump said he asked retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy about possible names to replace him at the Supreme Court.
Trump, speaking in the Oval Office, said they “had a very deep discussion. I got his ideas on things."
"I asked him if he had certain people he had great respect for that could potentially take his seat," he said.
Trump said Kennedy was at the White House in the early afternoon and left a "little while ago."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Trump has a lot of "good choices" to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement.
“Long distinguished service. One of the most consequential judges of the modern Supreme Court era. Now we’ll have to find a worthy successor, the sooner the President can nominate somebody, the sooner we can act. We’ll see what the President does. But he’s got a lot of good choices and elections matter," Graham said.
He added: “I would expect the President would send us somebody who is well qualified. And we’ll go about our business here, sooner rather than later I hope."
Graham said it is possible to get someone confirmed before the midterms if Trump sends them a nominee soon.
The White House just issued a statement on the announcement that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring next month. In it, the White House called Kennedy a "tireless voice for individual rights."
Read the full statement:
Today, we thank Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for his thirty years of distinguished service on the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1987, President Reagan nominated him to the Court, and he was swiftly confirmed without opposition. A Californian—like the President who appointed him—Justice Kennedy is a true man of letters. 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. Justice Kennedy has been a tireless voice for individual rights and the Founders’ enduring vision of limited government. His words have left an indelible mark not only on this generation, but on the fabric of American history.
President Trump says Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy visited the White House before his retirement announcement.
Justice Kennedy told his colleagues that he delivered personally the retirement letter to the President.
President Trump, speaking from the White House, took a few moments to address the retirement of Supreme Court Anthony Kennedy, whom he described as having "displayed tremendous vision."
"He’s a man that I’ve known for a long time," Trump said in the Oval Office. "He’s been a great justice of the Supreme Court."
"He is a man who’s displayed great vision, he’s displayed tremendous vision," Trump said.
He said the search for a replacement would begin immediately.
"Hopefully we will pick somebody who will be as outstanding," Trump said.
He said he would select a replacement from the list of possible justices that he released during his campaign.
"We have a very excellent list of great, talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people," he said. "I think you see the kind of quality that we’re looking at when we look at that list."
Watch the moment:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, urged President Trump to ditch his list of 25 possible Supreme Court nominees, saying that adding any of them to the court would tilt it "even more against women's, workers' and civil rights."
Here's her tweet:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just spoke on the Senate floor and addressed Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's just-announced retirement.
"First and foremost, I want to pause and express our gratitude for the extraordinary service that justice Kennedy has offered our nation. He served on the federal bench for 43 years," McConnell said.
He added, "In particular we owe him a debt of thanks for his ardent defense of the first amendment and first amendment’s right to political speech. As justice Kennedy concludes his continue you’re on the court, we wish him, his wife and their family every happiness in the years ahead."
"The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent on President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy," he added. "We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall."