U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement hours after the Court officially closed business for the term, setting up a major political battle on the eve of midterm elections and likely handing President Trump and Republicans full control of the Court.
Kennedy’s letter notified the Court that he is submitting to President Trump a formal notification of his decision to retire, which is effective July 31.
“It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” the letter states.
Kennedy had developed a reputation as a moderate swing vote thanks to siding with liberals to uphold abortion rights protections in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and his opinion striking as unconstitutional state-level bans on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. But in his last term with the Court, Kennedy consistently sided with his conservative colleagues, even in cases that would help shape his judicial legacy, like Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
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Justice Kennedy was nominated by President Reagan and began serving on the Supreme Court in 1988.
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