A Supreme Court Justice Retires 👨‍⚖️

Photo: Marco Ugarte / AP

Photo: Marco Ugarte / AP

The court's swing vote is out

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, long regarded as a vital swing vote, announced his retirement on Wednesday. This allows President Trump to appoint his second Supreme Court Justice, following his appointment of Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Justice Kennedy, appointed by President Reagan, on occasion sided with the liberal bloc in some landmark cases.

Landmark cases decided by a swing vote

Here are some landmark cases decided by Kennedy's swing vote in a 5-4 decision:

  • Janus v. AFSCME (2018) – Retracting union's rights (see below)
  • Trump v. Hawaii (2018) – Upholding Trump’s travel ban
  • Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) – Nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage
  • Roper v. Simmons (2005) – Preventing the execution of juvenile offenders
  • Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) – Access to abortion (upheld the ruling in Roe v. Wade)


The right is primarily focused on getting a replacement justice confirmed. They highlight that Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D) has warned against nominating a replacement prior to the midterm elections in November. Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R) has stated that a vote to confirm the next justice will take place this fall. They speculate that this could result in a significant political standoff prior to the November elections and put Democrats running in Trump states in a tricky position. 

The left emphasizes the effect the Trump administration has already had on the judicial branch, claiming 'chaos' is imminent. They state that Trump’s most recent appointee, Neil Gorsuch, is delivering on the Trump agenda and worry that no one on Trump’s list of replacement justices will be absent of political bias. They contend that Justice Kennedy was a pivotal reason why the court had strong public support in spite of dwindling public faith in government institutions. 

The future of the U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Kennedy is considered to have been a centrist despite being a Reagan nominated Republican. This kept the court balanced with 4 liberals, 4 conservatives and 1 swing vote. Most speculate that Trump's replacement will be a more traditional conservative compared to Kennedy - meaning the court will lean much more conservative on narrow rulings going forward. 

When millennials eventually take over the court



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