With the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court winding down, there is intense speculation as to any retirement plans for 81-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although he hasn’t said anything publically one way or another, Kennedy has already hired four law clerks for the upcoming term. That leaves some observers to conclude that Kennedy plans on working through the next term, at least for now. On the other hand, at this point in time, the court has only taken 15 cases for its next term. That might be an indication that the court has been told that Kennedy is retiring. The remaining eight members of the court might not want to take any more cases until such time as a replacement for Kennedy has been confirmed.Kennedy was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Regan in 1988. The Hill reports that regardless of the fact that Kennedy voted with the liberal side of the court on same-sex marriage, he has always been a moderate who might swing a vote on a case.
If Justice Kennedy does retire, President Donald Trump would be given another opportunity to select another candidate for the open seat. Whoever might be confirmed could profoundly shift the balance of the court to the right. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. If there’s a retirement coming, Grassley appears to want it done sooner rather than later. This might be the last chance for Justice Kennedy to retire under a Republican president and a senate that is controlled by a Republican majority. It’s entirely possible that Chief Justice John Roberts will announce Kennedy’s retirement at the close of this Supreme Court’s term.
It’s also possible that the speculation of Kennedy’s retirement might be better focused on some other justices. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and associated with the liberal wing of the court. One or two other judges are apparently experiencing health issues. We might know more in a few days or a few years.