Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday that he is retiring from the Supreme Court. According to Fox News, the 81-year-old justice will be ending his 30-year career for the high court effective at the end of July.
Filling his vacated seat will fall on President Trump, who will have then named two Justices to the Court. Trump previously tapped Neil Gorsuch — coincidentally Kennedy’s former law clerk — to take the seat occupied by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Due to his relatively moderate philosophy, Anthony is considered by many legal scholars to be the pivotal swing vote on a deeply divided United States Supreme Court. Of the other eight justices, are four solid liberals appointed by Democratic presidents and four solidly conservative justices named by Republicans.
If Trump follows his first pick with a similarly right-leaning judge, the Court could become much more solidly conservative, at a time when the court is hearing cases on hot-button issues such as gun rights, abortion, and immigration.
The nomination process will take place squarely in the middle of the mid-term elections, in which there are already heated contests between the two parties.