Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Justice Anthony Kennedy's Retirement Has People Worried About Who Could Replace Him

by Gillian Walters

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to undergo a major shakeup. Just one day after the Supreme Court's controversial ruling upholding President Donald Trump's travel ban, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday following 30 years of service, according to NBC News. Needless to say, Americans have a lot of questions about the retirement, especially where it concerns who will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although it's unclear at this time who will take on the role, it's likely there will be a tense battle over the pick.

In Kennedy's resignation letter to Trump on Wednesday, he expressed gratitude for having a chance to serve on the Supreme Court. “For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court,” 81-year-old Kennedy penned to Trump, according to the New York Daily News. “Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek each case how best to know, interpret and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.”

Although it was long rumored Kennedy had plans to retire, his departure — slated for July 31 — is unnerving to many. For starters, Kennedy is considered a swing vote. And as the Associated Press reported, Trump can nominate someone who could "cement conservative control of the high court." If Trump picks a staunch conservative as Kennedy's replacement — which he'll likely do — Roe v. Wade could be overturned, for example.

So, it's really no surprise people have concerns about Trump's potential replacement — especially given the Trump administration's unconstitutional policies of late.

"The replacement of Justice Kennedy with a reliable conservative would be far more consequential and would move the court markedly to the right," one person penned, according to Twitter. "We are in the beginnings of a Paradigm Shift, this will change our Country, and not in the way we want. Im not worried. Im scared!

"If you weren't worried before...with SCOTUS JusticeKennedy resigning you better be worried now," another commenter wrote. "If they get another conservative in that seat Roe V Wade, Gay'll all be on the line. Welcome to the Handmaid's Tale in real time.

"Justice Kennedy, while not perfect, was able to put politics to the side while on the bench. He was the swing vote," another person chimed in. "He wrote one of the most beautiful opinions in the case for marriage equality. I am scared."

"Just burst into tears reading of Justice Kennedy’s retirement," someone else agreed. "So scared and SO FURIOUS. My Body My Choice until I die."

Yeah, I think it's safe to say people are upset by this retirement. It's very scary to consider what the future holds now that Kennedy is out of the game.

So, who will Trump pick as Kennedy's replacement? CNN journalist Kaitlan Callan reported on Wednesday Trump will select the replacement from the White House's existing list of 25 potential nominees. "Big news from the pool — Trump says he will pick Anthony Kennedy’s replacement from his existing list of 25 potential nominees," Callan tweeted. "That’s the same list he used to pick Neil Gorsuch."

The list includes, according to the White House:

  • Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Keith Blackwell of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Charles Canady of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida
  • Steven Colloton of Iowa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Allison Eid of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • Britt Grant of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Raymond Gruender of Missouri, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Joan Larsen of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Mike Lee of Utah, United States Senator
  • Thomas Lee of Utah, Supreme Court of Utah
  • Edward Mansfield of Iowa, Supreme Court of Iowa
  • Federico Moreno of Florida, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • Kevin Newsom of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • William Pryor of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Margaret Ryan of Virginia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • David Stras of Minnesota, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Amul Thapar of Kentucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Timothy Tymkovich of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • Robert Young of Michigan, Supreme Court of Michigan (Ret.)
  • Don Willett of Texas, Supreme Court of Texas
  • Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma, Supreme Court of Oklahoma

At this time, it's not clear who Trump will choose. What is obvious, however, is Trump's intention to confirm the new pick ASAP.

"We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall," Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly said on the Senate floor following Kennedy's resignation, according to CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. "It's imperative than the president's nominee be considered fairly."

Critics of McConnell will probably find his comment about fairness ironic — his actions following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016 were anything but fair. McConnell — along with fellow Republicans —unjustly blocked President Barack Obama's replacement, Merrick Garland, a move Democrats now wish they had fought harder. Scalia's seat remained empty until Trump selected Justice Neil Gorsuch in January 2017.

McConnell's shenanigans aside, it's important to discuss what can be done in the coming months. First off, research all of the potential nominees so you'll be armed with information when Trump makes his pick. It's easier to fight against a potential nominee when you're informed.

Next, call your representatives about Trump's likely plan to confirm Kennedy's successor before midterm elections in November. Argue it's only fair for the Senate to wait until after midterms to vote on Trump's pick.

In short, keep your eyes on the ball. Although Kennedy's retirement is understandably discouraging, Americans still have the opportunity to have their voices heard in this important matter.