Justice Kennedy's retirement jolts midterm elections

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could barely hide his glee Wednesday moments after Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement, giving Republicans a chance to replace the high court's swing vote with a solid conservative for decades.

The president's first high court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017. "Elections have consequences. The last Supreme Court vacancy was brazenly stolen by shameless Republican leaders with no respect for American democracy". The bitter 14-month battle over Scalia's seat, during which Republican senators refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland, will most likely pale in comparison to the coming fight over Kennedy's seat. "It rarely gets too far out of line, but if it does get way out of line the answer is often politics".

Within minutes of Kennedy's personal delivery of his resignation letter, President Trump told reporters that he would move "immediately" to nominate someone as the next Supreme Court justice. But Republicans were twice as likely to say it's the right amount of partisan - 22% to Democrats' 11% and independents' 10%. Let's talk about what America is like that is going to be different. With this next nomination, he could turn the Supreme Court to the right for a generation, she said on CBSN. "Without the 60-vote filibuster requirement [which is not required for votes on Supreme Court nominees], I expect the nominee will be confirmed".

Many if not all of those holdings would be at risk in a court with five consistent conservatives, the oldest being 69-year-old Justice Clarence Thomas. It's highly unlikely that Kennedy's successor will be in his tradition of a more moderate, center-right influence on the court's conservative wing.

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But they, or at least those of them who remember "Macbeth", might now say that nothing in Kennedy's career became him like the leaving it.

It wasn't just a capstone for the six-term Kentucky Republican, who has spent the past year and a half muscling 42 of President Trump's judicial nominees through the Senate, including one Supreme Court justice and 21 appeals court judges.

And on June 26, the Court upheld the Trump administration's travel ban that blocks people from Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Venezuela from coming to the U.S. The same day, it reversed a lower court decision upholding a California law requiring anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers to fully disclose which services they provide.

Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster, said quickly confirming a new justice before the November 6 midterms could prove crucial to Senate Republicans.

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Otherwise, after Republicans eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations a year ago by invoking the so-called "nuclear option" to confirm Gorsuch, Democrats would need to convince at least two Republicans to deny Trump his nomination.

Mr Trump's nominee, likely to give the conservatives a solid majority, will face a Senate confirmation process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority but Democrats can not prevent a vote.

"We have a very excellent list of great, talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people", Trump said. "So unless the Democrats retake the Senate, which is unlikely, Trump will be able to select a justice who would vote to overturn Roe". The court's make up will determine important issues, including reproductive rights.

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