Conservative lawyers steer Trump on Supreme Court pick

01 July, 2018, 07:01 | Author: Bertha Harmon
  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev. leads the Democrats of the Nevada delegation to the podium for a media availability in the U.S. Capitol on Monday Nov. 14 2016

President Trump re-iterates when he will be revealing who he is nominating to fill retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's' seat.

The news sent shockwaves through Washington and the nation, especially among legal pundits and members of Congress who expressed their concerns about just how much of an impact Kennedy's departure may have on the Supreme Court and the rulings made for decades to come.

Kennedy, 81, the court's now longest-serving member and second-oldest justice, announced on Wednesday that he is retiring, effective on July 31. But he said he does want to put conservative people on the Supreme Court and he is proud of his first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. For example, he sided with the court's liberals by voting in favor of abortion rights and gay rights in key cases.

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"Kennedy is at or near the top on nearly all measures of power or influence", said Lee Epstein, a political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. "I said, 'Mr. President, that's your choice'".

Kennedy was one of the most crucial median justices in building a majority because the distance between him and the justices on either side of him ideologically was so large in most of the years in which he had that role. The swing-vote senators, along with McCain, were the trio who derailed the GOP's 2017 effort to repeal most of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The current record for longest service on the Supreme Court is held by William O. Douglas, who served for 36 years from 1939 to 1975. "And that'll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court".

In recent years, the average retirement age for a Supreme Court justice has been 83.

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Other names on Trump's shortlist reportedly include former Kennedy clerk Raymond Kethledge; Amul Thapar, the preferred choice of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; and Sen. Since 1937, no chief justice has also been the median justice. Gun rights or restrictions were the most-cited issue, followed by health care, then civil rights. Collins wasted no time following Kennedy's announcement to reiterate that she believes Roe v. Wade is "settled law", but a spokeswoman told the Portland Press Herald that Collins "does not apply ideological litmus tests to nominees".

"Because Kennedy drifted right this term, he and Roberts shared the median spot", Epstein said.

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