Although there is currently not a vacancy for a Supreme Court Justice, conservative and liberal activists are prepared to fight over the potentially vacant position due to the recent announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s possible retirement.
Swirling rumors that Justice Kennedy is considering retirement after serving 30 years on the bench have liberals and conservatives preparing now since they are both very dedicated to winning the battle for what many consider a very important confirmation. During Kennedy’s service, he was the deciding vote on many controversial Supreme Court cases, and it is crucial to both sides that they have a say in who will be awarded the coveted position.
The campaigning has already started from each party. Commercials with messages for and against potential nominees are being aired, strategy meetings are being held, and senators with critical votes are already feeling the pressure. Due to the fact that any nominee chosen by Trump will only lean the Supreme Court to the right, liberals and their supporters are concerned – and rightly so.
“It’s hard to fathom something more important to our rights and freedoms, and especially at this critical time for our democracy,” said Kristine Lucius of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “I think you would see engagement larger than you’ve seen in recent memory.”
It is important to remember, though that Kennedy’s exit is only a rumor at this point. He has been tight-lipped about his retirement plans. His has a very prestigious role at a very critical time for the U.S., and his vote is often touted as being the court’s ‘swing vote’. However, with Republican senators having only a slight advantage of 51-49, Kennedy may decide that it is best to remain in the position for the time being.
If Justice Kennedy does decide to retire, all eyes will be on the people who are thought to be on Trump’s list of potential replacements. “Our goal will be to humanize that person by telling their story right away. And television advertising is going to be a big part of that,” said Ron Bonjean former top adviser to House and Senate Republican leaders who assisted with Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation.
According to Lee Epstein at Washington University School of Law, a conservative nominee could result in the most right-leaning Supreme Court in 80 years. This in itself is a substantial reason Democratic lawmakers will fight to defeat the nomination.
This possible opportunity for Trump to replace Kennedy is so important for both sides because although Kennedy is conservative on issues such as business cases, he has shown that he tends to share liberal views on issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Liberals are planning improved marketing and fundraising ahead of the vacancy in hopes they will be successful in their efforts. Experts expect their platform to be directed to pro-choice Republican senators and expect them to talk a lot about abortion rights as well as same-sex marriage. They will also use public support for gun control and will be sure to point out the Supreme Court’s role concerning cases that involve Trump as a businessman and president, as various reasons for opposition of his Supreme Court nominee.
Among those Trump will consider for the possible vacancy include federal appeals court judges Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia, Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, Amul Thapar of Kentucky, and Raymond Kethledge of Michigan.
For now, though, it is a waiting game to see if Kennedy plans to retire or remain on the bench. “We’re playing for a generation,” said Aron. “Whoever his successor is could well cement the right half on the court and the country for the next 40 years.”
~ Liberty Planet