By Shlomo Rudman. On Wednesday, Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement after 30 years of serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Nominated by Ronald Reagan, and joining the Court in 1988, Kennedy has long been considered the Supreme Court’s swing vote on many polarizing and controversial cases.
With Kennedy’s retirement, Trump will have the opportunity to select his second Supreme Court Justice in just 18 months, an extremely rare occurrence. He is also expected to nominate a strong conservative to the bench, possibly swaying the ideological bent of the Court to the right for decades.
Having started with a list of 25 possible candidates, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had whittled his search down to 5 finalists, 2 of those being women. Trump said the candidates he is considering are “brilliant, very talented, mostly conservative judges”.
President Trump has also told advisers he wants his nominee to be a graduate of Harvard or Yale. All current Supreme Court Justices attended Harvard or Yale, except for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who graduated from Columbia University.
White House sources say counsel Don McGahn is conducting the search for and research into the President’s next Supreme Court nominee.
Experts believe the frontrunners to earn the President’s nomination are current federal judges Raymond Kethledge, Tom Hardiman, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. All come with impressive resumes and deeply conservative credentials.
In a Friday press release, the White House said that President Trump’s final decision will be publicly announced on Monday, July 9.
With Kennedy gone and a conservative expected to be nominated, some believe Chief Justice John Roberts will attempt to replace Kennedy as the Supreme Court’s “swing vote”. Such a role would not be new for the Chief Justice. Roberts, nominated as a conservative, ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, deeply angering Republicans and critics of the mandate. Justice Kennedy had ruled to strike down the law, saying it was unconstitutional.