Justice Neil Gorsuch has been on the bench for less than a month and conservatives are already preparing for the next Supreme Court confirmation fight. The only hitch: there’s no vacancy.
But that hasn’t stopped some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, from talking openly about a next seat and even possibly trying to woo 80-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy into retirement.
Friends and associates believe Kennedy is seriously considering retirement. In general, the burdens of age and demands at the court weigh in one direction. His deep interest — and leading role — in America’s constitutional democracy weigh in the other.
The question appears not to be whether Kennedy will retire soon, but when — at the end of this June, or next?
Replacing staunch conservative Justice Antonin Scalia with the likeminded 49-year-old Gorsuch may not change the direction of the court. The political and legal stakes, however, would be dramatically higher if Trump has the opportunity to fill Kennedy’s seat. Kennedy, a centrist conservative, has cast a key vote for gay marriage, abortion rights, affirmative action, and fair housing law.